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PROPERTY FROM THE ERICH GOERITZ COLLECTION
Erich Goeritz, the eldest son of Sigmund Goeritz, was born in Chemnitz, Germany, in 1889. After a period of apprenticeship in Breslau, he joined his father's textile firm and within a short time became one of the most prominent textile manufacturers in Germany. Married in 1918 to Senta Sternberger, Goeritz moved to Berlin with his wife and two young sons in 1920. Here the wealthy young textile manufacturer quickly became a friend of many artists and the family home on Schulter Strasse became a regular meeting place for the Berlin avant-gardists.
Berlin in the 1920s was the hub of the European art world. It boasted not only the greatest artists of the generation but also a plethora of Europe's greatest dealers: amongs those trading paintings in Berlin were the Cassirer family, Fritz Gurlitt, Thannhauser, Caspari and the young genius Herwarth Walden, with his instinctive appreciation of the cutting edge European avant-gardists. In a city humming with culture the arrival of the wealthy Erich Goeritz could only lead to major acquisitions of significant paintings. Goeritz befriended both Corinth and Liebermann, the stalwarts of the Berlin art scene, and both painted major portraits of their friend Goeritz as well as his wife Senta. Amongst the most celebrated of these is Corinth's superb portrait of Goeritz and his wife which he painted at the height of his career in 1922. Both painters were pivotal in persuading the leading museum curators to acquire French paintings by the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists. Consequently Goeritz also looked to acquire major French works and through the classical Berlin dealers, notably the Cassirers and Thannhauser, he bought oils and pastels by Degas, Lautrec, Monet, Pissarro, Cézanne, Gauguin and Monet.
Perhaps most significant amongst his French purchases was the Manet 'Bar au Folies-Bergère', an icon of late 19th century painting, which he was encouraged to buy by Thannhauser from Baron Hatvany of Budapest in 1924. Today, the painting is housed in Somerset House at the Courtauld Collection after its acquisition from Goeritz by Samuel Courtauld in 1926.
Aside from his interest in classical modernism in the shape of the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists, Goeritz was also acutely aware of the younger generation of German artists who were exhibiting throughout Europe at the time. Herwarth Walden of Der Sturm was their champion and Goeritz was following their extraordinary ascent: he quickly acquired major works by Barlach, Heckel, Schmidt-Rottluff, Kokoshka, Felix Müller and Jacob Steinhart.
His keen interest in the avant-garde blossomed in Berlin and through his relationships with the leading artists and dealers, Goeritz quickly became confident in the quality of his own judgement. In the early '20s, he was introduced to the work of Alexander Archipenko, a young Russian emigré from Kiev, who was a core member of the cubists who had first exhibited in 1910 at the Paris Salon des Indépendants. Archipenko was a core member of the cubist group, exhibiting with them in Paris in the Salon des Indépendants in 1910, 1911, 1912, 1913 and 1914. At the same moment his finest sculptures and reliefs were being exhibited in major galleries and exhibitions throughout Europe. Herwarth Walden, the greatest champion of the European avant-garde, gave Archipenko a one-man show at Der Sturm as early as 1913, in the same year as Archipenko was showing his work at the Armory Show in New York where he showed four major sculptures.
Archipenko's greatest patron was Sally Falk, the Mannheim based textile heir who between 1915 and 1917 acquired a superb collection of contemporary French and German art and was pivotal in directing Weichert, the Kunsthalle director, in acquiring major works for the museum. Amongst his personal acquisitions was Van Gogh's L'Arlésienne. Friendships with George Grosz and Wilhelm Lehmbruck led to many other German acquisitions but amongst the most notable was an astounding collection of Archipenkos.
Falk's business was turning sour, and in 1918, with a debt of 172,000 German Marks outstanding to the German authorities, Falk fled to the tax haven of Switzerland. Before his departure he sold his entire collection to the Berlin dealer J. B. Neumann. In 1919 Falk settled in Geneva where he set up a new textile firm S. G. Falk and began to reacquire major works of art. It is at this point that his quest for major works by Archipenko began in earnest. Falk became the owner of scores of Archipenko's works, most of them of exceptional quality.
From November to December 1919, Archipenko held a one-man show in the Librairie Kundig in Geneva in which many of his most important sculpto-paintings of the period, including Woman and Woman in Room, were exhibited. Falk bought heavily during this first show and at the second exhibition in Geneva in 1920 he bought a further seven pieces. By now, Falk was Archipenko's greatest patron and unsurprisingly the artist decided to execute two major sculptures of his benefactor. In 1920 Archipenko executed his complex sculpto-painting Double Portrait Mr. and Mrs. Falk, and Portrait of Mrs. Falk which he also dated Geneva, 1920.
By the second half of the 1920s, Falk's business was again under financial pressure and his need to raise capital outweighed all other concerns. Indeed such was the immediate need that Falk transfered much of his collection and his affairs to his creditors. By the late 1920s the greatest part of Falk's fine Archipenko collection was in the trusted hands of another textile magnate, the renowned Berlin collector Erich Goeritz. By this time, Archipenko had fled Germany for America and indeed it was thanks to Goeritz's passion for Archipenko's work that the best early sculpto-paintings survived. Had they been left in Germany during the war, they would almost certainly have been confiscated or destroyed by the Nazis in the 1930s or worse, destroyed or damaged as a consequence of the war. Donald Karshan has calculated that at least half of Archipenko's pre-war and wartime sculpto-paintings were destroyed, leaving a body of only some 40 works, out of more than 80. Of these, several were also badly damaged. By a quirk of fate, fortune, and good judgement, Archipenko shipped several works with him when he left Germany for America in the SS Mongolia in 1923 and Erich Goeritz also managed to ship many significant works out of Europe when in 1933 he moved his Archipenko collection to the Tel Aviv Museum in Israel.
Following Erich Goeritz's death in 1955, the Goeritz family took the unprecedented step of gifting the great majority of the collection to the Tel Aviv Museum and therefore to the state of Israel. In total, the collection comprised some five hundred works of art - sculptures, paintings, drawings and prints - which represent one of the greatest single artistic gifts to an Israeli institution. Amongst the works were 22 fine sculpto-paintings and polychromatic scultures by Archipenko.
The follwing group of five major works represent pieces which were sent to Israel by Goeritz in 1933 on loan rather than as permanent gifts. These works, several of them acquired from Sally Falk, represent a unique opportunity for collectors of early 20th century avant-gardism, to acquire significant works by Archipenko of undisputed importance and quality. The sculpto-paintings are almost impossible to find due to the fact that so few survive and those that do are already in major institutions, and the sculptures are also works which are proven to be fine quality, early lifetime casts.