The Rudolf Zwirner Collection: Works on Paper

The Rudolf Zwirner Collection: Works on Paper


April 30, 2024
The Rudolf Zwirner Collection: Works on Paper
A highlight of Grisebach’s Summer Auctions in Berlin
May 30–31, 2024
Fasanenstrasse 25
10719 Berlin

“The Rudolf Zwirner Collection: Works on Paper” promises to be a captivating event in the upcoming Summer Auctions at Grisebach (May 30–31, 2024). A pioneer of the Cologne art market, Rudolf Zwirner ranks among the most important and trend-setting gallery owners of the 20th century. A fine selection from his private collection of works on paper spanning four centuries will be sold at Grisebach on May 30 in the special auction “The Rudolf Zwirner Collection: Works on Paper.” This curated selection testifies to Zwirner‘s refined sense for exceptional quality and his keen eye for beauty.

Over the course of some 300 exhibitions, the passionate art dealer’s Cologne gallery has showcased works by icons like Andy Warhol, Gerhard Richter, and Sigmar Polke. Acting on behalf of Peter Ludwig, his most important collector-client, Zwirner also acquired numerous treasures of modern art. To this day, they are among the most significant exhibits at the Cologne museum bearing Ludwig’s name. Another of Zwirner’s contributions towards elevating the city to a leading art center was his role in co-founding its first fair for contemporary art in 1967, an event which set standards throughout the world. Since 1996, Zwirner has been living and working in his home city of Berlin again.

This said, the Zwirner Collection is focused not so much on the works that marked his professional career as an art dealer, and instead is dedicated first and foremost to artists whom he hardly ever represented or sold. This is a “collector‘s collection” in the best sense of the term: Unencumbered by any kind of systematic approach or claim to completeness, it is devoted exclusively to the collector’s personal preferences and desire for discovery, having been compiled with an unrivalled understanding of artistic quality.

The auction‘s top lot will be the gouache by Pierre-Paul Prud‘hon L‘Enlèvement de Psyché (estimate: EUR 200,000 to 300,000), a preliminary study created around 1808 for the major painting Psyché exposée sur le rocher est enlevé par les Zephyrs qui la transportent dans la demeure de l‘Amour, which can be admired in the Louvre. Rudolf Zwirner feels that in this gouache, the sense of lightness and the wind’s breath are even more palpable and perceptible than in the large oil version created later. Another rarity on offer will be Carnet Guernesey from 1856, an almost abstract image by the great French novelist Victor Hugo. One of his few large-format works (EUR 100,000 to 150,000), it epitomizes the interplay between writing and drawing, language and image so typical of Hugo’s paintings, not to mention his deep-seated fascination with dark and somber scenery.

Other highlights of the collection include Rembrandt‘s etching Landscape with a Cottage and Haybarn: Oblong from 1641 (EUR 50,000 to 70,000) and the watercolour print by Max Ernst Plantation farcineuse hydropique parasite from 1921 (EUR 40,000 to 60,000).

RSVP for The Rudolf Zwirner Collection: Works on Paper
April 30, 2024

Thank you for your RSVP.

Grisebach will be in touch.


e-flux announcements are emailed press releases for art exhibitions from all over the world.

Agenda delivers news from galleries, art spaces, and publications, while Criticism publishes reviews of exhibitions and books.

Architecture announcements cover current architecture and design projects, symposia, exhibitions, and publications from all over the world.

Film announcements are newsletters about screenings, film festivals, and exhibitions of moving image.

Education announces academic employment opportunities, calls for applications, symposia, publications, exhibitions, and educational programs.

Sign up to receive information about events organized by e-flux at e-flux Screening Room, Bar Laika, or elsewhere.

I have read e-flux’s privacy policy and agree that e-flux may send me announcements to the email address entered above and that my data will be processed for this purpose in accordance with e-flux’s privacy policy*

Thank you for your interest in e-flux. Check your inbox to confirm your subscription.