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Obituary – In memory of Wolfgang Ketterer

Wolfgang Ketterer, “one of the most renown European art dealers“ (Abendzeitung, 09 September 2000) and “precursor of the German auction market“ (Handelsblatt, 08/09 September 2000), died in his home in Kreuth on Tegernsee near Munich today on 14 October 2009.

Wolfgang Ketterer “made history in the German art business“, wrote the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on occasion of his 80th birthday on 9 September 2000. The Süddeutsche Zeitung described him as a man “who had a decisive impact (…) on the (…) art scene for more than thirty years (…)“ (9/10 September 2000).

Wolfgang KettererWolfgang Ketterer was born the youngest of five children on 9 September 1920 in the Alemannic town of Bräunlingen in the south-east part of the Black Forest. According to the economical and political circumstances in those days, he only found the art business to be his calling after taking some detours. After a four year apprenticeship in the hardware trade, which he had begun at the age of fourteen, he was drafted for military service in 1939. In January 1947 he joined the company of his older brother Roman Norbert Ketterer, who had founded the ‘Stuttgarter Kunstkabinett‘ in 1946. Together they soon celebrated great successes in the field of Modern Art.

In 1954 Wolfgang Ketterer started his own gallery in the exclusive Hackländerstraße in Stuttgart and relocated his enterprise to the Bavarian state capital Munich in 1965, which by then had become an important center for the art business.

The splendid Villa Stuck on Prinzregentenstraße with its 1500 square meters offered enough space to become one of the largest galleries for Modern Art with 12 staff members and the latest technical equipment in the in-house print- and photoshop. The successes of the one-man shows in his gallery in the 1960s, among them with renown artists such as Horst Janssen, Ernst Fuchs, Erich Heckel or Renato Guttuso, encouraged Wolfgang Ketterer to expand the company.

Alongside the publishing house and the gallery, he organized his first auction on 17 May 1968, which made him the first auctioneer of Modern Art in southern Bavaria in those days. Year by year, the auction agenda was increased by the following fields of special interest: Art Nouveau, African Art, Pre-Columbian Art, Asian Art, Poster Art, Antiques, Rare Books and Old Masters. Making all exhibition- and auction catalogues, including the printing, in-house, allowed for a great deal of flexibility.

The spirited art dealer started a representative office in New York in 1977 and when the Munich location was about to burst at the seams, he decided to move once more in summer 1982, this time to the Carolinenpalais in the elegant Brienner Strasse.

Wolfgang Ketterer’s expansion continued in 1989, when he took over the traditional Hamburg auction house F. Dörling, established in 1795. In order to combine all activities under one roof, the gallery Wolfgang Ketterer became the company Ketterer Kunst, of which Robert Ketterer, the third of his four sons, took over management duties in 1994.

In the years to follow Wolfgang Ketterer enjoyed his well-deserved retirement in his house on Tegernsee, taking good care of his garden, his green house and his bees. He liked spending time in the circle of his family, over the last years it was particularly his grandchildren who made for a lot of joy.

Since it was founded in 1954, Ketterer Kunst has been firmly established in the front ranks of auction houses dealing in art and rare books, with its headquarters in Munich and a branch in Hamburg. Gallery rooms in Berlin, where Ketterer Kunst only recently opened the first KIRCHNERSHOP in Germany, as well as representatives in Heidelberg, Krefeld and Ravensburg have contributed substantially to the company’s success. Ketterer Kunst has further rounded off its portfolio by acquiring the prestigious Ernest Rathenau Verlag, New York/Munich. In addition, exhibitions, special theme auctions and benefit auctions for charity as well as online auctions are regular events at Ketterer Kunst.


Ketterer Kunst
Joseph-Wild-Str. 18
81829 München
Tel. +49-(0)55244-444
Fax.: +49-(0)55244-177
E-mail: [email protected]

For press enquiries:
Michaela Derra M.A.
Telefon: +49-(0)89-55244-152 (Fax: -177)
E-Mail: [email protected]

Image: Wolfgang Ketterer (9.9.1920 – 14.10.2009) (Image: Wolfgang Ketterer in his office, Cover of ZEITmagazin in the 1970ies)