What Alfred Flechtheim Saw in Ernst Kirchner and Oskar Kokoschka

New York | 12 November

Before being forced to flee Nazi Germany, Alfred Flechtheim was a prominent gallerist that introduced radical artists to Berlin. As a new, industrial world materialized in the 20th century, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner and Oskar Kokoschka emerged as leading voices of the European avant-garde. Flechtheim, often a champion of the artists he represented, came to acquire two pivotal pieces by the artists, Das Soldatenbad and Joseph De Montesquiou-Fezensac, before being stripped of his possessions by the Nazis. Join Simon Shaw, Vice Chairman, Global Fine Arts and Lucian Simmons, Worldwide Head of Restitution, in an exploration of how these artists confronted and redefined the representation of the individual in this modern reality. Kokoschka’s radical innovation consisted of freeing the presence of his sitters from the shell of decadent narcissism. In Joseph De Montesquiou-Fezensac, he manipulates the canvas in a variety of unorthodox ways, including scraping paint away using his fingers and the end of his brush to create an image out of absence. Kirchner’s depiction was directly informed by his experience with the psychological realities of war. After finding the hardship and coercion of military life to be dehumanizing, he ultimately suffered a nervous breakdown in 1915. Kirchner's Das Soldatenbad portrays naked forms huddled together, creating an atmosphere of oppressive claustrophobia that channels this overwhelming loss of identity. Das Soldatenbad and Joseph De Montesquiou-Fezensac, having recently been restituted to the family of Alfred Flechtheim, will be offered as highlights of Sotheby’s Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale. (12 November | New York)

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