PRESS RELEASE | NEW YORK |
IMPORTANT EGON SCHIELE WORKS ON PAPER IN 20TH CENTURY EVENING SALE
PROPERTY FROM THE COLLECTION OF THE VIENNESE CABARET AND FILM STAR, FRITZ GRÜNBAUM
LIVE AUCTION: 17 NOVEMBER 2022 at Rockefeller Center
New York— Christie’s is honored to include two important works on paper by Egon Schiele – formerly in the collection of the Viennese cabaret and film star Fritz Grünbaum – in the 20th Century Evening Sale taking place live on 17 November 2022 at Rockefeller Center. These two works trace Schiele’s development during 1911-1912, two crucial years in his brief career. The works were part of the collection numbering in the hundreds of works that Fritz Grünbaum – said to be the inspiration for Joel Gray’s character in the Broadway musical Cabaret – assembled in Vienna in the first decades of the last century. The collection was lost when the Nazis invaded Austria in the late 1930s, and both Mr. Grünbaum and his wife were sent to concentration camps where they perished. These two works were recently restituted to the Grünbaum family.
Frau, das Gesicht verbergend (estimate: $1,500,00-2,000,000)
Created in 1912, this work is notable for the unusual viewpoint and suggestively intimate pose of the sitter, and focuses on the sinuous form of the model as she twists on to her side and begins to remove her clothing under the artist’s watchful gaze. Although the sitter’s identity remains a mystery, her face hidden under the crook of her arm as she moves, the wild tangle of black hair falling loosely in a cloud around her is reminiscent of a series of portraits Schiele created of the bohemian dancer and mime artist Moa. Rejecting the traditional idealization of the female nude, and including the blemishes and anatomical quirks which marked the model’s body, this work captures the explosive modernity of Schiele’s vision during this period.
Frau mit schwarzer Schürze (estimate: $500,00-800,000)
Executed in delicate layers of pigment, Frau mit Schwarzer Schürze reveals Schiele’s growing confidence in the use of watercolor during the latter half of 1911. His art had undergone a dramatic transformation over the course of the previous year, shifting away from the bold, jagged, angular lines that had previously dominated his oeuvre to explore a softer, more delicate approach to form. In this work, Schiele allows the washes of color to bleed over the contours of his pencil drawing underneath, lending the outline of the figure a more rounded, organic character. Retaining a sense of the fluidity of the paint and the bold movements of the artist’s paintbrush as it danced across the page, Schiele plays with the sheer liquidity of the watercolor, limiting the flow of the pigment by adding a subtle white “halo” around the edges of the young girl’s body.
Vanessa Fusco, Head of Impressionist & Modern Art and Head of 20th Evening Sale, said: “These two exquisite works by Schiele display the daring nature of his ground-breaking studies of the female figure, an artistic obsession which occupied him throughout his short-lived career. Through his exacting and unforgiving investigation of the female body, the artist challenges and subverts the conservative veneer of contemporary Viennese society, revealing the latent erotic charge that existed just below its surface. This underlying tension, coupled with Schiele’s incredible command of his media, give these works a timeless quality that account for their enduring desirability and relevance.”
The Legacy of Fritz Grünbaum
Born Franz Friedrich Grünbaum in April 1880, Fritz Grünbaum was a celebrated cabaret performer, writer, actor and outspoken opponent of Nazism, active in Vienna during the early twentieth century. He studied law before turning to performance and cabaret, and enjoyed a highly successful and varied theatrical career, which included performances at the famous Viennese theatre Simpl, as well as roles in several early films. Alongside his work as a performer, Grünbaum held a life-long passion for art, shaped by his father Wilhelm’s activities as a dealer in the city of Brno (Brünn), and he built up a diverse personal collection which ranged from Russian icons and etchings by Old Masters such as Albrecht Dürer and Rembrandt, to Post-Impressionist and Modern drawings and watercolors by August Rodin, Camille Pissarro, Paul Signac, Max Liebermann, Käthe Kollwitz, and others.
However, it was compositions by the Viennese avant-garde of the early twentieth century and, in particular, the works of Egon Schiele that captured Grünbaum’s imagination. Over the course of his life, he purchased over 80 works by the artist, spanning the full range of Schiele’s creative output, from delicate pencil portraits and nude studies executed in gouache or watercolor, to striking, melancholic landscapes and mysterious allegorical subjects in oil.
Shortly after the German annexation of Austria in 1938, Grünbaum was arrested by the Gestapo and subsequently interned at Dachau concentration camp in June 1938, where he perished in January of 1941, after having also spent some time incarcerated in Buchenwald. His art collection, which numbered over 400 works at the time of his arrest, was lost following his wife Lilly’s deportation to the Maly Trostenets concentration camp near Minsk in October 1942, where she was murdered soon after her arrival. Frau, das Gesicht verbergend and Frau mit schwarzer Schürze were recently restituted to the Grünbaum family after years spent fighting for their return.
Richard Aronowitz, Christie’s Global Head of Restitution, said: “It is always deeply humbling to come face-to-face with works of art that were once owned by those people who went on to become victims of the Holocaust. These cherished items speak to us of lives lived and lost. Such is the case here with these two fine watercolor compositions by Egon Schiele: they stand as an abiding, unerasable testament to Fritz Grünbaum’s taste as a collector and to Egon Schiele at the height of his artistic powers.”
Christie’s has the largest and most experienced Restitution team of any international auction house, underscoring our responsibility to this field. Located in New York, London, Berlin, Brussels and Vienna, our researchers have a century of combined years of experience. We have made Nazi-era provenance research a hallmark of our expertise.
Images for press use available HERE.
Edward Lewine | email@example.com | 212 636 2680
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German Version below
CHRISTIE’S AND THE FAMILY OF FRITZ GRÜNBAUM AGREE TO THE SALE OF TWO IMPORTANT WORKS BY EGON SCHIELE
Christie’s is honored to announce that the family and heirs of the renowned performer, composer, and art collector Fritz Grünbaum have entrusted Christie’s with the sale of two important works on paper by Egon Schiele, which will be included in Christie’s Evening sale of 20th Century Art in New York this November. These two exceptional watercolors were part of the collection numbering in the hundreds of works that Fritz Grünbaum – said to be the inspiration for Joel Grey’s character in the Broadway musical Cabaret – assembled in Vienna in the first decades of the last century. The collection was lost when the Nazis invaded Austria in the late 1930s, and both Mr. Grünbaum and his wife were sent to concentration camps where they perished. Christie’s and the Grünbaum family hope this sale will offer an opportunity to celebrate the life, art, and genius of Fritz Grünbaum.
Richard Aronowitz, Christie’s Global Head of Restitution, said: “It has been a privilege to work with the Grünbaum heirs and I want to thank them for giving us the opportunity to offer these extraordinary Egon Schiele drawings. We look forward to sharing these works with the world, and to introducing a new generation to Fritz Grünbaum, a renowned performer who was also a renowned collector.”
Raymond J. Dowd, Esq., who is representing the Grünbaum heirs, said: “I want to thank Christie’s for the expertise, professionalism, and personal care they have shown throughout this process. I am confident that we have placed the legacy of Fritz Grünbaum and the trust of his family in the best hands in the business.”
Christie’s has the largest and most experienced Restitution team of any international auction house, underscoring our responsibility to this field. Located in New York, London, Berlin, and Vienna, our researchers have a century of combined years of experience. We have made Nazi-era provenance research a hallmark of our expertise.
CHRISTIE’S UND DIE FAMILIE VON FRITZ GRÜNBAUM VEREINBAREN DEN VERKAUF VON ZWEI WICHTIGEN WERKEN VON EGON SCHIELE
Christie’s freut sich, bekannt geben zu können, dass die Familie und die Erben des berühmten Künstlers, Komponisten und Kunstsammlers Fritz Grünbaum Christie’s mit dem Verkauf von zwei bedeutenden Papierarbeiten von Egon Schiele beauftragt haben, die in der Christie’s Evening Sale of 20th Century Art in New York diesen November angeboten werden. Diese beiden außergewöhnlichen Aquarelle gehörten zu der Hunderte von Werken umfassenden Sammlung, die Fritz Grünbaum – der als Inspiration für die Figur des Joel Grey im Broadway-Musical Cabaret gilt – in den ersten Jahrzehnten des letzten Jahrhunderts in Wien zusammengetragen hatte. Die Sammlung ging verloren, als die Nazis in den späten 1930er Jahren in Österreich einmarschierten, und sowohl Herr Grünbaum als auch seine Frau wurden in Konzentrationslager geschickt, wo sie umkamen. Christie’s und die Familie Grünbaum hoffen, dass dieser Verkauf eine Gelegenheit bietet, das Leben, die Kunst und das Genie von Fritz Grünbaum zu feiern.
Richard Aronowitz, Christie’s Global Head of Restitution, sagte: “Es war ein Privileg, mit den Grünbaum-Erben zusammenzuarbeiten, und ich möchte ihnen dafür danken, dass sie uns die Möglichkeit gegeben haben, diese außergewöhnlichen Egon Schiele-Zeichnungen anzubieten. Wir freuen uns darauf, diese Werke mit der Welt zu teilen und eine neue Generation mit Fritz Grünbaum bekannt zu machen, einem berühmten Künstler, der auch ein renommierter Sammler war.”
Raymond J. Dowd, Esq., der die Grünbaum-Erben vertritt, sagte: “Ich möchte Christie’s für das Fachwissen, die Professionalität und die persönliche Betreuung danken, die sie während dieses Prozesses gezeigt haben. Ich bin zuversichtlich, dass wir das Erbe von Fritz Grünbaum und das Vertrauen seiner Familie in die besten Hände der Branche gelegt haben.”
Christie’s verfügt über das größte und erfahrenste Restitutions-Team aller internationalen Auktionshäuser, was unsere Verantwortung in diesem Bereich unterstreicht. Unsere Forscher in New York, London, Berlin und Wien verfügen zusammen über ein Jahrhundert an Erfahrung. Wir haben die Provenienzforschung in der Nazizeit zu einem Markenzeichen unserer Expertise gemacht.
In May — some eight decades after the Nazis killed one of his ancestors and a decade after launching a legal battle — Timothy Reif ’80 *85 won a decisive legal victory regarding the family’s stolen art.20222807_Court Rules for Family of Art Collector Killed by Nazis_PrincetonAlumniWeekly
by Richard Weihs (* October 6, 1956 in Wels), an Austrian author, musician and actor, with a focus on Viennese dialect.
A commonplace that is probably popular at all times says that any cabaret, no matter how satirically exaggerated, is always far outdone by real existing politics. And the true story of the naming of a small square in Vienna-Mariahilf after the great cabaret artist Fritz Grünbaum seems to me to confirm this thesis quite vividly.It was in the spring of 1979 when I protested with hand-painted posters against the planned development of a large plot of land on the Linke Wienzeile. In such a green-poor residential area, I thought (and later thousands of other residents of Mariahilfer), the construction of a public park would be much more urgent.
Heirs of Nazi-looted paintings can proceed with auction after legal battle ends
A nearly seven-year-long legal battle over two paintings stolen by the Nazis has finally come to an end after an art dealer lost his bid to appeal, freeing the heirs of the works to put them up for auction.
The artworks, “Woman Hiding her Face” and “Woman in Black Pinafore” by Austrian expressionist Egon Schiele, are expected to go under the hammer at Christie’s in the fall.
Timonthy Reif and David Fraenkel, the owners, sued London-based dealer Richard Nagy in 2015 for the return of the paintings.
They argued that their ancestor, Austrian Holocaust victim Fritz Grunbaum, had been forced to hand over the works — and the rest of his $5 million collection of paintings — to the Nazis.
Grunbaum, a Jewish cabaret performer, was then sent to the Dachau concentration camp, where he was killed in 1941.
His heirs filed suit after learning the Schiele paintings ended up in Nagy’s hands decades later — and that the dealer had put them up for sale at the Park Avenue Armory.
Reif and Fraenkel said they had proof that their ancestor had been forced to sign a document giving up his precious collection. Read more
English Version below
Radio SRF 2 Kultur, Kultur-Aktualität, 30.05.2022, 17:10 Uhr, Oliver Meier
Sammlung Grünbaum Dieses Raubkunst-Urteil setzt die Museen unter Druck
Seit langem wird über die Schiele-Sammlung des jüdischen Kabarettisten Fritz Grünbaum gestritten, der im Konzentrationslager Dachau starb. Nun erhalten die Nachkommen zwei Werke zurück, die in Bern gehandelt wurden. Ein erstaunlicher Entscheid.
Das bahnbrechende Urteil des Obersten US-Gerichtshofs zur Restitution der beiden Schielewerke wurde am 24.Mai endgültig bestätigt. Der Beklagte Richard Nagy wurde zur Herausgabe der Bilder an die rechtmäßigen Erben sowie zur Bezahlung von Schadenersatz und Zinsen verpflichtet. Damit ist auch die Restitution der im Besitz der österreichischen Museen Albertina und Sammlung Leopold befindlichen Bilder aus der Sammlung Grünbaum wieder ins Zentrum der österreichischen Restitutionspolitik gerückt.
This column was published on April 20, 2022 in the Austrian daily newspaper Salzburger Nachrichten
Diese Kolumne erschien am 20.04.2022 in der österreichischen Tageszeitung Salzburger NachrichtenDer Traum vom Café Grünbaum in Hitlers Geburtshaus