Art dealer of the Avantgarde

French Modernism

Flechtheim himself wrote that, thanks to Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler, he had become what he was at that time – an agent for contemporary French art in Germany. From the mid 1920s onwards his galleries greatly contributed to making French avant-garde art known to a broader public. Cooperation with leading art dealers in France such as Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler, Paul Rosenberg, Christian Zervos, the galleries Simon, Druet, Thannhauser and Georges Bernheim, and descendants of artists including Pierre, Claude and Jean Renoir enabled Flechtheim to sell works by André Derain, George Braque, Juan Gris, Fernand Leger and Pablo Picasso in his galleries in Düsseldorf, Berlin and Frankfurt. Apart from the French avant-garde Flechtheim also displayed works by French Impressionists and, in 1929, staged an impressively large exhibition with almost 500 works entitled ‘Seit Cezanne in Paris’. At Christmas 1929 he displayed graphic works by Paul Bonnard, George Braque, Paul Cezanne, Marc Chagall, Edgar Degas, Henry Edmond Cross, Vincent van Gogh, Marie Laurencin, Henry Toulouse-Lautrec, Aristide Maillol, Auguste Renoir, Auguste Rodin, Pablo Picasso, Paul Signac, Odilon Redon, Felix Valloton and Eduard Vuillard, among others, thanks to the loan of works from major collectors like Paul von Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, Curt Glaser, Robert von Hirsch, Bernhard Köhler, Max Meirowsky, Oskar Moll, Gottfried Reber, Max Silberberg, Alex Vömel and Hans Wendland. Scultures on display included works by Constantin Brancusi, Edgar Degas, Henri Laurens, Maillol, Henri Matisse and Renoir. In addition Flechtheim had been organising a series of solo exhibitions since the mid 1920s of works by George Rouault, Henri Rousseau, de Vlaminck, Giorgio de Chirico, Jean Lurcat and others. At a time when German museums had to fight to acquire works by the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists, Flechtheim pursued a policy in his galleries that clearly supported the French avant-garde.

The names of private collectors who owned works by the artists’ exhibited were listed on numerous occasions in the catalogues. In 1928 the exhibition ‘Lebende Ausländische Kunst in rheinischem Privatbesitz’ (contemporary foreign art in private collections in the Rhineland) at the gallery in Düsseldorf provided an insight into the rich culture of collecting to be found in the private sector at this time through figures such as Margrit Cohen, Claus Gebhard, Friedhelm Haniel, Ilse Henkel, Eduard von der Heydt, Julius Lipmann, Erna Loewenstein, Max Siller and Alfred Wolff. Flechtheim also mentioned museums that had already acquired works. When Flechtheim exhibited works by Henri Rousseau in 1926, paintings by the artist were only to be found in the Louvre, the Modern Gallery in Prag, the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia and the former Tschoukine Collection in Moscow. At the time of the Pablo Picasso exhibition in Berlin in 1927 only four museums in Germany had works by the artist – Hamburg, Elberfeld, Frankfurt and Halle. When the exhibition ‘Seit Cezanne in Paris’ was held in 1929, only two museums in Germany had works by Juan Gris (Barmen and Cologne) and Marie Laurencin (Berlin and Ulm).