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Heinrich Campendonk (1889-1957)
Heinrich Campendonk (1889-1957)

Bergziegen (Blumen und Tiere)

Heinrich Campendonk (1889-1957)
Bergziegen (Blumen und Tiere)
signed with initial and dated 'C 17' (lower right); signed and dated again 'Campendonk 1917' (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
29 ¼ x 19 ¼ in. (74.3 x 48.9 cm.)
Painted in 1917
Pauline Kowarzik, Frankfurt (by 1920).
Städtische Galerie, Frankfurt (gift from the above, 1926 and until 1937); removed as ‘entartete Kunst’ by the National Socialists in 1937.
Karl Buchholz, Berlin (circa 1942).
Karl Nierendorf, New York (1947).
The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (by 1967); sale, Sotheby Parke Bernet, New York, 22 October 1975, lot 137.
Private collection; sale, Sotheby's, London, 29 November 1988, lot 70.
A. Alfred Taubman, Bloomfield Hills (acquired at the above sale); sale, Sotheby's, London, 10 October 2001, lot 35.
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.
W. Schürmeyer, "Heinrich Campendonk" in Das Kunstblatt, 1918, p. 113, no. 2 (illustrated).
P.O. Rave, Kunst diktatur im Dritten Reich, Hamburg, 1949, p. 79.
P.-K. Schuster, Nationalsozialismus und Entartete Kunst, Die Kunststadt, Munich 1937, exh. cat., Staatsgalerie, Munich, 1987, p. 166, no. 16-198.
A. Firmenich, Heinrich Campendonk: Leben und expressionistisches Werk, Recklinghausen, 1989, p. 371, no. 692 (Illustrated in color, p. 170, pl. 63).
Du¨sseldorf, Galerie Alfred Flechtheim, Heinrich Campendonk, June 1920 (illustrated).
Munich, Archaologisches Institut, Entartete Kunst, 1937 (illustrated; titled Blumen und Tiere).
New York, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Museum Collection: Seven Decades, A Selection, 1967, no. 196.
New York, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Rousseau, Redon and Fantasy, May-September, 1968.
Los Angeles County Museum of Art and The Art Institute of Chicago, Degenerate Art: The Fate of the Avant-Garde in Nazi Germany, February-September 1991, p. 214 (illustrated in color, fig. 181).

Lot Essay

“I’m now in the thick of it and with some good pieces have even managed to impress,” Heinrich Campendonk reported to his future wife Adda in November 1911. The previous month, just shy of his twenty-second birthday, Campendonk had left his native Krefeld and moved to the Bavarian hamlet of Sindelsdorf, where his friend Helmuth Macke was sharing a studio with Franz Marc. There, Campendonk fell under the influence of Marc’s vividly colored and heavily abstracted paintings of animals, which, the two artists believed, had spiritual values that could countermand the materialism of the modern age. In December 1911, at Marc and Kandinsky’s invitation, Campendonk participated in the now-legendary first exhibition of Der Blaue Reiter at Thannhauser’s Moderne Galerie in Munich, launching him on the international avant-garde stage.
Both Campendonk and Marc were mobilized when the First World War broke out; Marc was killed in action in March 1916, and Campendonk was discharged for illness shortly thereafter. Profoundly affected by his experience at the front, Campendonk retreated to rural Seeshaupt on Lake Starnberg and immersed himself in work, melding the intense color and expressive surface of the Blaue Reiter with a new interest in the folk traditions of Bavaria, where the Brothers Grimm had gathered their fairy tales. “It was only after his return from the war that he became an important painter in his own right,” Peter Selz has written. “Campendonk’s subject matter consists of the most elementary objects of country life...but he dismembers this ordinary world and reassembles it into a magic, dream-like place” (German Expressionist Painting, Berkeley, 1957, pp. 308-309).
Painted at Seeshaupt in 1917, Bergziegen depicts a trio of blue and red mountain goats that gambol weightlessly through a rocky landscape strewn with delicate wildflowers–an idyllic, primordial vision in which animals, unlike modern man, live in harmonious communion with nature. Translucent planes of color overlap in a complex, cubist-derived space that lends the scene a whimsical, floating quality. The dark, jagged silhouettes of the encompassing vegetation, however, hint at a looming menace–the hungry troll that awaits the Three Billy Goats Gruff beneath the bridge, perhaps, or the devastations of twentieth-century warfare.
The first owner of Bergziegen was the German artist Pauline Kowarzik, who gifted the canvas to the Städtische Galerie in Frankfurt in 1926. In 1937, the Nazis confiscated the painting and included it in the exhibition Entartete Kunst (Degenerate Art)–a virulent attack on modernism, intended to clarify by defamation and derision exactly what sort of art was anathema to the Reich. Campendonk had fled to Amsterdam by this time, where he died in 1957; the present painting subsequently entered the collection of the Guggenheim Museum.

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