After he saw “Hero,” a print by Georg Baselitz, Count Christian Duerckheim, a German industrialist, became obsessed with his country’s art. That was in 1970.
“I always wanted to see the art of my time,” he said in a telephone interview. “I’m interested in history.”
Over the years he got to know Mr. Baselitz and, through him, other German artists. And he began collecting paintings and drawings in a disciplined manner unlike that of most collectors today. Concentrating only on German art, he bought the best examples he could find by Mr. Baselitz and his contemporaries, including Gerhard Richter, Sigmar Polke and Blinky Palermo, along with lesser-known names like Jörg Immendorff, Konrad Lueg and Eugen Schönebeck. “They are not the same, yet they have the same spirit,” he said.
Count Duerckheim said he now felt that this collection, which essentially chronicles a fertile moment in German art, was essentially finished. “I can’t go on,” he explained. “It’s time to concentrate on something new.”
And so Sotheby’s will sell 59 works from his collection on June 29 and June 30 in London. Many of them have not been on the market for more than 30 years. Together they are expected to bring about $55 million.
Among the highlights is “Dschungel,” or “Jungle,” a 1967 painting by Polke that is a prime example of his use of pointillism. Depicting a sunset through leaves in a jungle, it is expected to fetch $5 million to $6.5 million. Also for sale are Mr. Baselitz’s “Spekulatius,” a 1965 canvas from his “Hero” series (estimated at $3 million to $4.1 million), and one of Richter’s seminal color chart paintings, this one from 1974 ($1.5 million to $2.4 million).
Highlights of the sale will be on view at Sotheby’s in New York from May 6 through May 9.
NEW AT NATIONAL GALLERY
Every year at the National Gallery of Art in Washington the trustees and patrons who make up its Collectors Committee provide money to add to the museum’s holdings of contemporary art. Often the choices go beyond the obvious and the trendy. This year, for example, to increase the selection of work by black artists, the committee has bought the gallery’s first Kerry James Marshall work, the 1994 painting “Great American.” (Two years ago it acquired the gallery’s first painting by another black artist, Norman Lewis, who died in 1979.)
“Kerry James Marshall is one of our pre-eminent midcareer artists, African-American or otherwise,” Harry Cooper, the National Gallery’s curator of Modern and contemporary art, said of this 55-year-old painter and sculptor. Three years ago Mr. Cooper visited Mr. Marshall’s studio on the South Side of Chicago and studied his work.
“It is an imposing work,” Mr. Cooper said of “Great American.” “It has a lot of visual fireworks, uses a lot of different painterly techniques, with reference to folk art and to trompe l’oeil.” The work is also unusual because it is neither framed nor stretched, but rather has grommets around the edges so it can be tacked onto a wall.
Another acquisition is a work by the Washington sculptor Anne Truitt. While the gallery already owns examples of Truitt’s work, Mr. Cooper said, it had no sculptures from what he called her breakthrough period. So “Knight’s Heritage,” from 1963, a sort of cubic rectangle fashioned from hollow wood and painted in rust, yellow and dark blue color blocks is a critical addition. Truitt, who died in 2004, was influenced by the work of Barnett Newman and Ad Reinhardt.
The Jack Shainman Gallery in Chelsea brokered the sale of “Great American,” which came from a collector, Mr. Cooper said, while “Knight’s Heritage” was acquired from Matthew Marks, the Chelsea dealer representing Truitt’s estate.
The new additions will be on view in the gallery’s East Building, starting May 1.