Munch’s masterpiece is being exhibited for the first time in 89 years

On March 1, Sotheby’s will auction Edvard Munch’s masterpiece, which has not been on public display since 1939. “Dance on the Beach”, whose price is between 15-25 million dollars, will be exhibited in London from February 22.

Its first appearance on the market in nearly 90 years is a rare opportunity for collectors to acquire one of the most legendary works Munch ever painted. “, Sotheby’s vice president Simon Shaw announced in a press release. March 1, Sotheby’s auction in London Dance on the beach (1906) by Edvard Munch (1863-1944) in an evening sale dedicated to modern and contemporary art. Estimated at between $15 million and $25 million, the 4m long work is part of the famous Reinhardt frieze originally designed for the Deutsches Theater in Berlin. Today, it is the only fragment of the cut frieze that remains in private hands. Another 12 paintings are kept in German museums. The sale of a work of art looted during World War II is the result of an agreement between the heirs and the current owners.

An immersive work representative of Munch’s work

In 1906, the German director Max Reinhardt asked Munch to create a composition for “Foyer”. Kammerspiele At the Deutsches Theater, Berlin’s avant-garde theater. The artist is commissioned to create a frieze that immerses the crowd and creates an atmosphere. The Reinhardt frieze, with its sober composition and extreme simplification of landscape and silhouettes, is Munch’s first experiment in decorating a building intended to receive the public. The artist even wrote in 1938: “ 30 years ago with the Reinhardt frieze, I pioneered modern decorative art with the aula and Freia friezes. »

Painting on MS Black Watch, Munch, 1939 © Sotherbys

“Dance on the beach It reflects the meaning of life unfolding in front of his eyes, incorporating many important motives from his work, as well as people who have stuck in his memory. “, describes the auction house. The work covers all the recurring themes of Munch’s work: innocence, love, life and death. The two female figures in the foreground are actually Munch’s two greatest loves: Tulla Larsen and Millie Thaulow. and the second is none other than his cousin’s wife and first love, two stories that haunt him and end in tragedy and heartache.

From Curt Glaser’s collection to Thomas Olsen’s

After six years, the decoration of the theater changes and the frieze is divided into 12 tables. Dance on the beach Acquired by historian Kurt Glaser, director of the Berlin Art Library and biographer of the artist. But in 1934, the Jewish collector was forced to sell a large part of his paintings, including Munch’s, to prevent them from falling into the hands of Nazi soldiers.

Curt Glaser's library in his apartment © Sotherbys

Curt Glaser’s library in his apartment © Sotherbys

A few months later, Norwegian shipowner Thomas Olsen acquired itDance on the beachOn sale in Oslo. He hung in the ballroom of the Black Hour in 1939, a liner sailing between Oslo and Newcastle. But when England declared war on Germany, Thomas Olsen took it out and hid it away from the Nazis in a warehouse deep in a Norwegian forest. At the end of World War II, he restored it and the work remained in his family, never to be shown to the public again.

Both Curt Glaser and Thomas Olsen were great collectors and close friends of Munch. Witness the artist’s portraits of Elsa Glazer and Henriette Olsen (respective wives of the two men). The proceeds of the sale will be considered the Olsen family’s contribution to Glazer’s damage repair. Until next February 12, an exhibition at the Kunstmuseum in Basel illuminates the legacy of Kurt Glaser (who died in exile in the United States in 1943). In particular, the event presents 200 works obtained during the dissolution of the Swiss institution in 1933, whose ownership is the result of an agreement with the rights holders in 2020.

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