ERICH HECKEL (1883-1970)
ERICH HECKEL (1883-1970)
ERICH HECKEL (1883-1970)
ERICH HECKEL (1883-1970)
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ERICH HECKEL (1883-1970)

Knaben am Strand (Zwei Knaben am Meer)

Details
ERICH HECKEL (1883-1970)
Knaben am Strand (Zwei Knaben am Meer)
signed and dated 'Erich Heckel 1919' (on the reverse); signed, dated and inscribed 'Erich Heckel: Knaben am Strand. 1919' (on the stretcher)
oil on canvas
31 1⁄2 x 27 1⁄2 in. (80 x 69.8 cm.)
Painted in 1919
Provenance
Gustav Ferd. Jung, Hagen, by whom probably acquired from the artist, by 1943; his estate sale, Sotheby's, London, 2 December 1981, lot 151.
Lafayette Parke Gallery, New York & San Francisco.
Acquired from the above by the present owner on 5 May 1993.
Literature
P. Vogt, Erich Heckel, Recklinghausen, 1965, no. 5 (illustrated; incorrectly catalogued as 'signed and dated 'Erich Heckel 19' (lower left)' and 'tempera on canvas').
A. Hüneke, Erich Heckel, Werkverzeichnis der Gemälde, Wandbilder und Skuplturen, vol. II, 1919-1964, Potsdam, 2017, no. 1919-7, p. 14 (illustrated; incorrectly catalogued as 'signed and dated 'Erich Heckel 19' (lower left)' and 'tempera on canvas').
Special notice

Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.
This lot has been imported from outside of the UK for sale and placed under the Temporary Admission regime. Import VAT is payable at 5% on the hammer price. VAT at 20% will be added to the buyer’s premium but will not be shown separately on our invoice.

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Micol Flocchini
Micol Flocchini Head of Works on Paper Sale

Lot Essay

The nude human figure was for Heckel and his fellow artists of Die Brücke a potent symbol of a state of innocence and naturalness that they wished to use their art to exalt. The turn of the century had seen a vogue of Freikörperkultur (Free Body Culture) in Germany, a movement which emphasized the health benefits of nudist activity within nature. After years working both alone and together directly from nature in the open air around the lakes at Moritzburg and at various towns on the Baltic coast, the subject of bathers in nature had become a staple of Die Brücke art. As in his scenes of nudes in landscape settings painted by the Moritzburg Lakes, Heckel’s pre-war compositions of naked bathers enjoying the water and sand of a beach express the artist’s wish to return man to an ideal state of connection with his inner self and the natural environment.
Following the war, Heckel’s style undergoes a radical shift. As Janina Dahlmanns has explained, "right after the war the bathers returned to Heckel' s repertoire of motifs. As far as the colours are concerned, it becomes obvious how much the figures blend in with the background and the palette of the landscape elements. The bathing people are perfectly integrated into nature, become a part of it" (Im Zentrum des Expressionismus Erwerbungen und Ausstellungen des Bru¨cke-Museums Berlin, 1988-2013, exh. cat., Bru¨cke-Museum, Berlin, 2013, p. 289). Painted in 1919, the present work demonstrates the artist’s continued exploration of the bather subject. As compared to earlier depictions, however, the figures now embody the trauma of the war years and the uncertainties of the postwar period. What was previously a scene of health and rigour, the bodies of the figures are now skeletal. In Knaben am Strand the bodies inhabit the space like ghosts, looking at one another, but isolated and disengaged. The standing figure covers his torso, as if in a state of shame.
These two bathers no longer represent the carefree liveliness of the pre-war period. Rather, they are tired, defeated, and unable to engage with the natural environment which surrounds them, a resulting tragedy of the great War.

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