T he remarkable collection of Dr Erika Pohl-Ströher – a scientist, geologist, collector, museum patron and businesswoman – which includes several notable German Expressionist and Bauhaus works, will be offered for sale across several sales at Sotheby’s in London this spring.
Erika Pohl-Ströher was born in Wurzen near Leipzig and grew up in Rothenkirchen in Vogtland, and was the granddaughter of Franz and Marie Ströher, founders of the German hair care and cosmetics giant Wella AG. After the Second World War, the Ströhers fled Russian-occupied Saxony, settling in Hünfeld in Hessen, where Erika’s father, Karl Ströher, reestablished the Wella factory.
Successfully building Wella into an internationally known brand, Karl Ströher (1890-1977) was renowned not only for his business acumen, but also for his eclectic collecting tendencies, which proved influential to the contemporary art scene at the time. Ströher’s lifelong passion for art is evident from his diverse collection, spanning a forty-year period that brought together 19th Century European Paintings, the Bauhaus, École de Paris, Brücke and American Pop Art.
Ströher also owned the Beuys Block, the largest complex of works by Joseph Beuys. An active and influential patron of the arts, throughout his collecting career, he met and developed relationships with many artists such as Oskar Kokoschka, Marc Chagall, Fernand Léger, Max Ernst and Andy Warhol.
A key influence on the development of his taste was the artist and designer Willi Baumeister, with whom Ströher enjoyed a close friendship, and whose 1954 oil and mixed media work, MO V is offered at auction for the first time.
Also central to the collection are six exceptional works on paper by the revered Bauhaus artist and educator, Oskar Schlemmer, born from a friendship Ströher cultivated with the artist’s widow Tut. Schlemmer’s pivotal role at the Bauhaus is here represented by several works on paper of the human figure moving through space— examples of his ongoing investigations in to geometric abstraction, and his deep fascination with choreography, theatre and ballet.
Continuing a family tradition of artistic patronage, Erika Pohl-Ströher inherited a number of pictures and objects from her father, and was also an active collector in her own right. She began collecting at a young age, amassing arguably the most valuable private collection of gems and minerals in the world. She also displayed a keen interest in folk art, a passion derived from a deep nostalgia she felt for her hometown in Saxony.
Further works of Modern art from the collection of Dr Erika Pohl-Ströher will be offered in the Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale in London on 26 February, the Impressionist & Modern Art Day Sale on 27 February; Contemporary Art Day Auction on 6 March. Miniatures from the collection will be offered at Sotheby’s London in May and July 2019.