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Live-in studio of Anton Kerschbaumer (1920–1934)

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Anton Kerschbaumer, Wohnecke im Atelier, ca. 1925, Brücke-Museum

“Electric lighting (wonderful ceiling lights), hot water and central heating (working fine), a covered balcony, windows and two lovely deep niches. Everything in perfect order[.]” In the spring of 1921, Walter Gramatté offered his friend Anton Kerschbaumer the opportunity to temporarily take over his rented flat on Emser Straße in Wilmersdorf – a stroke of luck for the artist. Although the flat was on the top floor, there was a lift, a spacious studio area and – thanks to the large windows – plenty of light for creative work. Moreover, Kerschbaumer was now the direct neighbour of former Brücke member Erich Heckel. The two had met during the First World War while serving together as paramedics in Ostend and had come to appreciate each other as artists. Living as neighbours in Berlin, they had ample opportunity for impromptu artistic and personal exchange.

Anton Kerschbaumer, Atelier-Interieur mit Bild Erich Heckels, 1926, Brücke-Museum

In February 1922, when Gramatté attempted to reclaim the premises for his own use, a heated dispute broke out between him and Kerschbaumer. The latter was adamant that he should keep the live-in studio, in which he had by then made himself at home. Angry, Gramatté confided in his friend and collector Paul Rauert: “I wrote to K. [erschbaumer] yesterday. I offered him 20,000 marks to give me back my studio. But he is unlikely to do so. I’m still registered with the police at Emserstraße 19/20 and with the housing office. K. [erschbaumer] is listed as my subtenant. So as soon as I de-register, he can be evicted very, very quickly.” But events took a different turn. The dispute eventually escalated to a court decision in favour of Kerschbaumer. Gramatté was devastated that his “trust in people” had been violated by a friend; Kerschbaumer continued to live there until his death, finding inspiration for a multitude of works in those very rooms.

Isabel Fischer

Ludwigskirch-Platz, corner of Emser Straße, 1911, picture postcard, Archive of the Museum Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf

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