“Dance on the Beach” to be Offered at Sotheby’s London in March From the Renowned Olsen Collection As Part of a Restitution Settlement with the Family of Leading Jewish Patron Curt Glaser
Edvard Munch’s singular vision resulted in vivid, psychological artworks as he battled his demons and the eternal pull between life and death on canvas. In 1906, at a turning point in his life, Munch was commissioned to paint what is now known as “The Reinhardt Frieze”, installed on the walls of impresario Max Reinhardt’s avant-garde theatre in Berlin with twelve major canvases – in an immersive installation that was one of the first of its kind, and trailblazed the relationship between performance and art.
At just over four metres wide, Dance on the Beach is the monumental culmination of the series. In the foreground of the canvas are two of the artist’s great loves, affairs with both of whom ended in heartbreak. It is the only example from the Reinhardt series remaining in private hands, with all of the others held in German museum collections.
As part of a tumultuous journey in the lead up to and during the Second World War, the painting was last on the market 89 years ago, when it was acquired at auction by Thomas Olsen – who assembled an unmatched collection of around thirty works by the artist, including one of four versions of the infamous The Scream. Having been identified as once having belonged to Professor Curt Glaser, a major cultural figure in 1930s Berlin who was forced to flee, it is being sold by agreement between the two families.
The work will be offered as a highlight of Sotheby’s Modern & Contemporary Evening Sale in London on 1 March, with an estimate of $15-25 million. Prior to the sale, the painting will go on public view for the first time since 1979, with an exhibition in London (22 February – 1 March), as well as digital installations of this frieze in Hong Kong (5-7 February) and New York (11-15 February).
“Munch was the ultimate rebel, and every brushstroke on this frieze is utterly modern and purely expressive. This composition reimagines one of Munch’s greatest images, the Dance of Life, which was the culmination of the artist’s Frieze of Life and places love at the centre of the artist’s ‘modern life of the soul’. His first version dates from 1899-1900 and hangs alongside the iconic Scream in Oslo’s National Gallery. This work is among the greatest of all Expressionist masterpieces remaining in private hands — its shattering emotional impact remains as powerful today as in 1906.”
“This exceptional painting is made all the more special due to its extraordinary provenance, a history that has unfolded since it was painted 115 years ago. Intertwined in the story of this painting are two families – both leading patrons of Munch. Indeed, so important were the Glasers and the Olsens to Munch, that he painted both Henrietta Olsen and Elsa Glaser (wives of Thomas and Curt). We are proud to play a part in the painting’s next chapter, whilst celebrating the legacy of the patrons who were integral in supporting the vision of such a great artist.”