GUGGENHEIM MUSEUM, NEW YORK. THANNHAUSER COLLECTION
The Thannhauser Collection, formed by the collector and art dealer Justin K. Thannhauser (1892–1976), introduced to the Guggenheim’s holdings works by such groundbreaking artists as Edgar Degas, Édouard Manet, and Vincent van Gogh, and more than thirty examples by Pablo Picasso. This major gift provides an important survey of late 19th- and early 20th-century modernism. It was during this critical period—as artists sought to liberate art from academic genres and introduce contemporary subject matter—that the avant-garde investigated novel materials and methods, setting the stage for the development of radical new styles.
Justin Thannhauser was a vital figure in the dissemination of modern art in Europe and the United States in the early 20th century. From the 1910s, Justin Thannhauser worked alongside his father, Heinrich Thannhauser (1859–1935), in his Moderne Galerie in Munich and helped build a dynamic exhibition program that featured the French Impressionists and Post-Impressionists, in addition to contemporary German artists. The gallery provided a crucial venue for experimental art, mounting the premiere Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider) group exhibition in 1911–12 and one of the first Picasso shows in Germany in 1913, among others.
Despite Justin Thannhauser’s success as a dealer—expanding the gallery network to Lucerne and Berlin and staging comprehensive presentations of the work of Paul Gauguin, Henri Matisse, and Claude Monet—business operations were hindered during the Nazi government’s campaign against avant-garde art in the 1930s. Justin Thannhauser initially relocated both his business and family to Paris but eventually settled in New York in 1941 to escape persecution as a Jew.
The Thannhausers’ promotion of artistic progress, and their advancement of the early careers of many modern artists, paralleled the vision of this museum’s founder, Solomon R. Guggenheim. In recognition of this shared spirit, and in memory of his first wife and two sons, Justin Thannhauser announced in 1963 a gift of essential works from his private collection to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation. His widow, Hilde Thannhauser (1919–1991), subsequently made additional gifts of art to the museum.
The Thannhauser Collection is organized by Megan Fontanella, Curator, Modern Art and Provenance.