Museum-quality works by Brücke artists at the 500th jubilee sale

Franz Gertsch

In Spring 2023, Van Ham is celebrating the 500th live sale as part of the Modern Week, presenting museum-quality works by Otto Mueller and Hermann Max Pechstein at the jubilee event. Back last year, Expressionist works in particular were enormously successful on the German art market, therefore we may also expect strong demand for these outstanding works by the Brücke artists.

The 500th live sale at Van Ham will constitute a special highlight in the 2023 season of auctions in Germany. The works offered at this jubilee sale with selected works of modern and contemporary art reflect the high quality level which Van Ham has achieved in this area. Since it was established in 2002, the Modern and Contemporary Art Department has recorded steady growth, making Van Ham one of auction houses with the highest revenue in this field in Germany. Owing to its broad base and the implementation of new concepts, today this department constitutes Van Ham’s most important pillar, earning more than 70 percent of the company’s total revenue. Initially the department held two auctions a year – and in 2022 there were nine live sales and 35 curated online sales with a total of some 5,000 works by over 1,030 artists from more than 56 countries. Thanks to the different sales formats, the experts under the direction of Robert van den Valentyn can approach different, specific international target groups and respond flexibly to changes in the market. Its willingness to tread new paths – whether by building its own auction portal for the online sales, the marketing cooperation Auction Alliance with its partner Karl & Faber, or the pioneering work in the field of digital art in the form of NFTs – makes Van Ham an innovation driver in its industry sector.

Hermann Max Pechstein


Museum-quality works by Otto Mueller are rarely to appear on the auction market. We are all the more pleased that we are able to offer an eminent work by this German Expressionist on the occasion of our 500th sale: the painting Girl and Boy at the Forest Pond from 1922. In Tanja Pirsig-Marshall’s and Mario von Lüttichau’s catalogue raisonné, which was published in 2020 by Van Ham Art Publications, it is listed under number G1922/03 (165). This museum-quality work is striking in every respect: the muted colours on large, rough burlaps creates a special surface which is characteristic of Mueller’s canvases. The motif is captivating – Mueller skilfully puts the slim, pointed bodies into a close relationship with nature, from which, however, they emerge energetically and mystically. Moreover, there are no gaps in the work’s provenance: it was part of Mueller’s estate when he died. His only son also inherited Girl and Boy alongside other paintings. It changed owners for the first time in the 1950s through the Günther Franke Gallery in Munich. Most recently the work was part of a German private collection for over 40 years (estimate: €1,000,000–1,800,000).

Like Otto Mueller, Hermann Max Pechstein was a member of the Brücke group of artists, although he did not completely adopt their stylistic devices. For example, he used strong colours but deformed shapes less than they did while placing more emphasis on the decorative element. Later on Pechstein joined the artists’ colony Nidden, a fishing village on the Curonian Spit. It was this place of inspiration where The Conversation was created in 1920, among other works. The painting is of impressive quality and size and comes from the same private collection as Otto Mueller’s painting (estimate: €600,000–800,000).

The work Composition abstraite is a particularly impressive example of the high-contrast and distinct colour-shape compositions of Serge Poliakoff, one of the most important representatives of the “École de Paris” (estimate: €200,000–300,000). In this painting Poliakoff achieves a dynamic and energetic atmosphere by juxtaposing the strong colours.

Serge Poliakoff

Post War

For Swiss artist Franz Gertsch she was a muse: Irene Staub. Gertsch eternalized the colourful personality in different variations – Irène VIII is a gouache on paper from 1981 that will be called up in the spring (estimate: €500,000–700,000). The prostitute Staub was also known under the pseudonym “Lady Shiva”. It was not least her obstinate, egocentric manner and her touch of glamour that made Staub also a thrilling personality and muse of inspiration for such notables as Mick Jagger, Catherine Deneuve or Federico Fellini.

Fernando Botero is the most successful contemporary Cuban artist. His extensive and distinctive oeuvre contains art historical references to Renaissance and Baroque painters as well as influences of the cultures of Latin America. In his work Botero skilfully transfers the echo of the Old Masters into his very own, modern language of shapes. We can also see this in the painting on offer here, where Botero focuses on the voluminous physicality of the figure he depicts and which gives his works tremendous recognition value (estimate: €70,000–100,000).


This Spring Van Ham serves the tremendous interest in works of Photorealism by offering two impressive works by American artists Tom Blackwell and Anthony Brunelli. They are marked by sophisticated compositions and painstaking attention to detail. Blackwell, known for his reflections in shop windows of well-known fashion houses, is represented with his painting Sequined Mannequins from 1985 (estimate: €125,000–175,000).

VAN HAM Spring 2023

LIVE AuctionsClassic Week
Decorative Art 16 + 17 May 2023
Fine Art 16 + 17 May 2023
Fine Jewels 16 + 17 May 2023
Watches 16 + 17 May 2023

Modern Week
Modern 5 + 6 June 2023
Post War 5 + 6 June 2023
Contemporary 5 + 6 June 2023

ONLINE ONLY AuctionsYou can find our current ONLINE ONLY auctions here.


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