Rare Brücke Woodcuts Picked Up at Flea Market Hit the Auction Block in Germany

Sit back and relax, it’s time for another tale of flea market discovery! This one takes place in Germany, where an Odenwald native picked up a thin brochure inscribed with the name “Brücke” for €5 at a flea market earlier this year. Next month, that book is expected to sell for at least €18,000 ($23,400) when it hits the block at German auction house Ketterer Kunst.

As it turns out, the brochure was a catalogue for a 1912 traveling exhibition of the Die Brücke group, a collective of German expressionist artists that included Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Erich Heckel, Otto Mueller, Max Pechstein, and others. The book contains 10 original woodcuts by Pechstein and others. To the consignor’s surprise, it had been offered by Ketterer Kunst 30 years ago before disappearing into obscurity.

Only a handful of this particular version of the catalogue exist, and its backstory is full of intrigue. Soon after the exhibition went on tour, Die Brücke members learned that Max Pechstein had showed his work with another artist group, Berlin Secession. He was promptly kicked out of the group, and the catalogue was reprinted with his work omitted. The flea market find is one of the handful of originals that remain. It goes on sale as part of Ketterer’s rare books auction on November 19 and 20.

Julia Halperin