Art works from the Rolf Huisgen Collection

Rolf Huisgen (1920-2020): Scientist and art collector from Munich

Auction in Wurzburg:
Saturday, 24 October 2020 – 2 pm

Preview in Wurzburg:
October 12 until 23 from 10 am to 5 pm daily

Catalogue order

COVID-19 notice:
If possible, please make an appointment to visit the preview. We kindly ask you to reserve a seat for the auction. 

“Like no other, he shaped organic chemistry in Germany in the second half of the 20th century. In the years 1961 to 1976 he was the most-cited German scientist, ”Ludwig Maximilians University Munich acknowledged in its obituary of the internationally renowned scientist Professor Dr. Dr. h.c. mult. Rolf Huisgen.
Numerous awards accompany his journey. In 1984 the "Bayerische Maximiliansorden für Wissenschaft und Kunst" (The Bavarian Maximilian Order for Science and Art). In 2010, the Free University of Berlin honoured him as a "behavioural researcher" in the miniature world. By then the 90-year-old chemist had retired, but still enriched the scientific discussion with numerous contributions. In March this year, shortly before his 100th birthday, Rolf Huisgen died.

Rolf Huisgen was a scientist and art collector. His collection includes more than 200 works, including major works from the avant-garde of the early 20th century, such as Alexander Archipenko, Willi Baumeister, Max Beckmann, Georges Braque, Marc Chagall, Jean Dubuffet, Lyonel Feininger, Karl Hofer, Ida Kerkovius, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Georg Kolbe, Otto Müller, Ernst Wilhelm Nay, Emil Nolde, Hermann Max Pechstein, Pablo Picasso, Christian Rohlfs, Egon Schiele and Karl Schmidt-Rottluff.

Brother Klaus Huisgen (1917-1944), who was three years older, plays a tragic key role in the history of his collecting. While Rolf Huisgen was considered to be important for the war effort, his talented brother was drafted into military service. "He always wanted to go to the art academy and was wildly enthusiastic about German Expressionism, an art that was considered degenerate at the time." So they exchanged the then popular "cigarette cards" with motifs of Expressionist works. In 1944 the brother died in a plane crash during the war. Years later, Rolf Huisgen recorded the intense correspondence with him in a multi-volume edition. What remains is the common connection to German Expressionism, which will form the basis of his later collection of European and African art.

Rolf Huisgen considers collecting to be similar to science: “You only have to expose yourself to art and science long enough and then again and again. This is the only way to approach knowledge.” And it leads him to the works of art of Africa, works primarily from West Africa and the Congo, which he acquired between 1973 and 1984 primarily with Ladislas Segy (1904-1988) in New York and from Hans Schneckenburger (1940-2012). The Munich architect and aficionado of African art belongs to the generation of tribal art collectors that materialized in post-war Germany since the late 1950s.

Rolf Huisgen's collection is convincing, be it in the selection of its major works, in its artistic refinements, in the qualities that aim to have an effect, or in finding something special, unexpected, or just to discover this in the details. This is masterfully implemented in this Igbo shrine figure 'ikenga', which he bought from Hans Schneckenburger in 1975.

Photo Rolf Huisgen: private archive

Nigeria, Igbo, Collection Rolf Huisgen

Nigeria, Igbo

Hans Schneckenburger, Munich (Germany)
Rolf Huisgen, Munich (Germany) (1975)

Nigeria, Yoruba, Ekiti, Efon Alaye, Agbonbiofe or workshop, Collection Rolf Huisgen

Nigeria, Yoruba, Ekiti, Efon Alaye, Agbonbiofe or workshop

Boris Kegel-Konietzko, Hamburg (Germany) (coll. in situ, Oyo, 1958)
Rolf Huisgen, Munich (Germany) (1976)

Burkina Faso, Lobi, Collection Rolf Huisgen

Burkina Faso, Lobi

Hans Schneckenburger, Munich (Germany)
Rolf Huisgen, Munich (Germany) (1973)