Alfred Flechtheim.com - Art Dealer of the Avant-Garde

  • 10 October 2013 - 9 February 2014

    Alfred Flechtheim at the léger exhibition, Berlin. 1928. Photo: Atelier Lily Baruch. Royal Library Copenhagen. © The Royal Library.

    collection, Villa Wesendonck (3rd floor)

    The gallery owner Alfred Flechtheim (1878-1937) was a major protagonist in the art scene at the beginning of the 20th century. His commitment to the “Rheinische Expressionisten” group of artists, the French avant-garde and German Modernism, and his support of great artists such as Max Beckmann, Georg Grosz and Paul Klee, made him internationally famous even during his lifetime.

    100 years ago Alfred Flechtheim opened his first gallery in Düsseldorf on 9 October 1913. His activities as an art dealer have left their mark in numerous museums to this day in the form of major works of art. 

    The aim of this project is to trace the path these works of art took before arriving in the museums, their provenance and their sales history from the artist to the dealer and collector. Particular attention is placed on the time Alfred Flechtheim dealt with the works as well as the circumstances under which these were ultimately acquired by the respective institutions. 

    Participating museums are displaying works of art to the public that have an ‘Alfred Flechtheim’ provenance in the form of exhibitions and presentations of works in their own rooms.

    The involved museums are connected through the website alfredflechtheim.com (from 9 October on) where you can find further information.






  • Alfred Flechtheim and the Rietberg Museum

    The South Seas collection of Museum Rietberg includes nearly 350 artworks. The majority come from the museum’s founding collection, donated by Eduard von der Heydt, who was a friend of the art dealer Alfred Flechtheim for more than two decades.

    In Alfred Flechtheim’s galleries, in his own apartment, and in his influential magazines “Der Querschnitt” and “Omnibus”, artworks from non-European cultures in Africa, America, Asia and Oceania were regularly displayed and reproduced. A cult figure from the South Seas stood on the book table in his apartment, and more figures and masks were arranged on the bookshelves; carvings hung over the door and there was a bronze mask from Benin on the wall. These artworks formed the backdrop to his daily life. On several occasions between 1914 and 1932, he exhibited art from Asia, Africa, the Americas and the Pacific in his galleries.

    One of the people whom Flechtheim had to thank for bringing non-European art into his life was Eduard von der Heydt, the internationally important collector and banker who was passionate about art from outside Europe. Reproductions of many of the artworks in Eduard von der Heydt’s collection appeared in Querschnitt and Omnibus. It was he who inspired Flechtheim to include non-European art in his gallery programme. In 1926 Flechtheim devoted a very large exhibition entirely to sculpture from the South Seas. This exhibition, which was shown in Berlin, Zurich, Chemnitz and Wiesbaden, was still being reviewed years later in leading art magazines. Von der Heydt had acquired the exhibits, some of which can be seen in the exhibition here, from J. F. G. Umlauff, the Hamburg dealer in ethnographic art, three months before the show opened. The renowned art historian Carl Einstein had described them and provided scholarly documentation for Flechtheim’s catalogue. But it was Flechtheim who exhibited them and brought them to the attention of the public. Their owner Eduard von der Heydt remained invisible in the exhibition. This is why the artefacts entered the historical record inaccurately as “Collection Flechtheim”.


    Media More»

    Media review

    (ArtEnsuite Kunstmagazin, 1/11/2013) 

    “Die Museen und der Kunsthändler”
    (Neue Zürcher Zeitung NZZ, 26/10/2013) 

    “Hommage als Datenbank”
    (Süddeutsche Zeitung, 11/10/2013)

    “Streit um das Erbe des Alfred Flechtheim”
    (Deutsche Welle, 10/10/2013) 

    “Museen arbeiten Geschichte der Flechtheim-Bilder auf”
    (Der Bund, 10/10/2013) 

    “Der Fall Flechtheim”
    (Frankfurter Allgemeine FAZ, 9/10/2013) 

    “15 Museen widmen sich dem Kunsthändler Alfred Flechtheim”
    (Südwest Presse, 9/10/2013) 

    “Alfred Flechtheim – Kunsthändler der Avantgarde”
    (kultur-online.net, 20/09/2013)