History of the gallery

The art dealing activities begun in 1946 by Roman Norbert Ketterer are now in the third generation of the family and can look back over seven decades. On 29th June 1946, the day of his chosen patron saints Peter and Paul, Roman Norbert Ketterer (Bräunlingen 1911 – Lugano 2002), who was then still living in Eislingen, Germany, and working in an entirely  different profession, founded the Stuttgarter Kunstkabinett. In so doing, Roman Norbert Ketterer had laid the foundation stone for the following firms over the next 65 years: Stuttgarter Kunstkabinett, 1946-1962, Galerie Roman Norbert Ketterer in Campione d’Italia, 1962-1988, Galleria Henze in Campione d’Italia, 1970-1993, Galerie Henze & Ketterer in Wichtrach/Berne since 1993 with its branch establishment in Riehen/Basle, Galerie Henze & Ketterer & Triebold, since  2001.

In 1947, Roman Norbert Ketterer discovered Expressionism – hitherto banned by the Nazis as “degenerate” and hence completely unknown to him – as the true art of his generation. Determined to reinstate this movement in the annals of German art, Roman Norbert Ketterer founded his Stuttgarter Kunstkabinett in that same year.  By way of special auctions, which grew in status and magnitude to reach worldwide renown by 1962, Ketterer brought Expressionism back into the public eye, back into private collections and back into the museums that had been plundered by the Nazis.  Thus it was that the Stuttgarter Kunstkabinett laid the foundations for many famous art collections, such as those of Heinrich von Thyssen and Bernhard Sprengel, from which important art museums ultimately evolved.  From 1954 onwards, Roman Norbert Ketterer was also the executor of the estate of Ernst Ludwig Kirchner.  It was through the estate trust that Ketterer and his wife Rosemarie were able to finance the building of the new Kirchner Museum in Davos in 1992 and donate what was to be the nucleus of the museum's present collection. Between the years of 1962 and 1988, Roman Norbert Ketterer had also built up an art business in Campione d'Italia as a specialist in Expressionism.

It was also in Campione d'Italia, in 1970, that Ketterer's daughter Ingeborg and his son-in-law Wolfgang Henze (the son of the art critic Anton Henze, Münster/Rome) established their own gallery specializing in Expressionist prints, abstract art of the 1950s and the works of relatively young, contemporary artists such as Jürgen Brodwolf, Alfonso Hüppi and, later, Nakis Panayotidis and Daniel Spoerri.  The business activities of this gallery were extended in 1993 by the opening of another gallery in Wichtrach near Berne and now included the administration of the estates of other artists, such as that of Fritz Winter, and the archiving of artists' complete oeuvres, such as that of Ernst Ludwig Kirchner.  Since Roman Norbert Ketterer's death in 2002, Kirchner's estate has been administered at the gallery by his children Ingeborg Henze-Ketterer and Günther Ketterer.  The gallery in Wichtrach on the outskirts of Berne is located in a vast complex of buildings built between 1920 and 1964. The KUNST-DEPOT, designed by the architects Gigon + Gujer, whom the family discovered during the building work on the Kirchner Museum in Davos, was added in 2004. The KUNST-DEPOT meanwhile counts among the most exhibited and published pieces of architecture of the 21st century.

The family‘s third generation started their commitment in this field of activity right after completing their studies. From 2001 on exists a second gallery in Riehen/Basel as branch. Firstly unter the name of Galerie Triebold AG and then as Galerie Henze & Ketterer & Triebold. The founders and directors are Dr. Alexandra Henze Triebold (daughter of Ingeborg Henze-Ketterer and Dr. Wolfgang Henze)  and her husband, Marc Triebold (son of the gallery-owners Othmar and Delia Triebold). The Riehen-branch shows mainly Expressionism and Abstraction but also has some younger artists like Dario Basso, Pizzi Cannella, Robert Klümpen, Nunzio, Paolo Serra and others in its program. 

Our gallery sees its activity as a constant endeavour on behalf of the works and fields of art it represents, an activity that involves not least the acquisition of its own large collections of art works or whole estates and also the upkeep of archives on the individual artists and a fully comprehensive library.

During the last decades, and especially since it relocated to Switzerland in 1993, our gallery has evolved to become an internationally renowned and sought-after centre of competence for the representation of artists and art genres. Numerous worldwide museum exhibitions and publications not only originated here but were also curated by our gallery, either entirely or in collaboration. Particularly worthy of mention is the close collaboration between our Ernst Ludwig Kirchner Archive in Wichtrach/Berne and the Kirchner Museum in Davos, founded by Roman Norbert Ketterer.

The gallery has been taking part in international art fairs since the early 1970s, including Art Basel, Art Cologne, FIAC Paris, Art Karlsruhe and TEFAF Maastricht. It is there that we are able to show high-calibre solo and group exhibitions of the artists we represent, and also our preferred movements in art, especially German Expressionism, which then finds an exemplary platform at any one of the said fairs.    

In its exhibition rooms in Riehen/Basle, situated in immediate proximity to the Museum Beyeler, and its large exhibition rooms in Wichtrach, which have a total floor area of approx. 900 square metres, the gallery shows between four and six exhibitions per year and location. A special gallery bookshop in Wichtrach offers literature – both available and out of print – on our artists and our special fields of art. The Kirchner Shop is likewise managed by the gallery bookshop. The gallery grounds in Wichtrach were recently redesigned as a SCULPTURE GARDEN that can also readily cope with heavy works of sculpture. The gallery now plans to hold regular sculpture exhibitions there in parallel to the exhibitions in the gallery.


Text: Wolfgang Henze, published in „Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Der Frühe Holzschnitt 1904 bis 1908“, Catalogue 70 Gallery Henze & Ketterer,
Wichtrach/Bern 2003, p. 5-9.

geschichte 02

in memoriam

Roman Norbert Ketterer

Born in Bräunlingen on 6th February 1911 - Died in Lugano on 19th June 2002

Ninety-one years are not much when we realize how quickly they went by. Ninety-one years are a lot, on the other hand, when we realize that they have gone by only twenty-two times since the birth of Christ. And when we think of all the things that have happened in these twenty-two units of time during the last two millennia, all the ups and downs, all the surprising, completely unpredictable developments and counterdevelopments, and not least in the last of them, from 1911 until 2002, then Roman Norbert Ketterer's lifetime cannot but seem long and full.

When the German news magazine "Der Spiegel" devoted a cover story to Roman Norbert Ketterer in 1960, it seemed as though the then forty-nine-year-old had reached the very height of his professional career. But further heights of success were yet to come, the seeds of which had been sown long since.

Having always been a lover of art and music, this manager of a special-purpose oil firm in Eislingen founded his auctioneering house, the "Stuttgarter Kunstkabinett", in 1946. The two decisive moments in the life of Roman Norbert Ketterer in those years of regained freedom following the collapse of National Socialism were his discovery of works of art that had been unknown to him and his generation in Hitler's Germany, for they had been banned as "degenerate", and his realization that auctions were the very means by which he, Roman Norbert Ketterer, could whet the appetite of collectors and museum directors alike for these erstwhile scorned, persecuted and confiscated works of modern art. And they all came, all of them, not just the connoisseurs, collectors, critics and museum people but the rich and famous, too. David Rockefeller, Stavros Niarchos and Heinrich von Thyssen-Bornemisza were just three of the many who, through the initiative of Roman Norbert Ketterer, became collectors of works of modern art.

Through his 37 auctions between the years of 1947 and 1962, each one of them surpassing its predecessor in terms of what it had to offer, its manner of presentation and the quality of its catalogue, Roman Norbert Ketterer succeeded in completely reinstating modernism in the museums and collections of Central Europe, an outstanding accomplishment for which he was later to be awarded the highest distinctions of the Federal Republic of Germany. Owing much to the very personal way in which Roman Norbert Ketterer conducted his auctions, it was an accomplishment which was important for museums, collectors and artists alike and was accompanied by enormous financial success. An auction in 1961, for example, sold works totalling approximately 7 million Deutschmarks, the equivalent of approximately 27 million Deutschmarks (13.5 million euros) today, though if the same works of art were to be auctioned today, and if Roman Norbert Ketterer awarded carnations to the successful bidders as he used to do in those days, not even the wildest guess would come close to what they would actually fetch.

Always at his side - and especially in those early years when he was still pursuing his main occupation as works manager of the firm of Südöl - was his wife Thea Ketterer. His daughter Ingeborg, born in 1940, and his son Günther, born in 1949, helped both at the auction previews, which were always busy with meetings and discussions, and during the actual auctions, presenting the works of art and distributing the highly coveted white carnations as prizes to those winning bidders who had paid a particularly high price. As he himself always wore a white carnation in his buttonhole, Roman Norbert Ketterer ultimately became known as "The man with the white carnation".

Roman Norbert Ketterer was assisted at the "Stuttgarter Kunstkabinett" by a great many excellent members of staff, about whom he reminisced in his memoirs "Dialogues" (1988) and "Auctioneering Legends" (1999). These memoirs, too, are very special kinds of autobiography, the former being quite objective and consisting of conversations held with former members of staff, friends, collectors, museum people and artists, the latter being highly personal, intimate and altogether subjective, written by hand on eight writing pads in 1998 during one of his usual summer stays at a hotel in Davos, and without any assistance - quite a feat for an eighty-seven-year-old.

Mention ought above all to be made of those members of staff who helped to spread the know-how of the "Stuttgarter Kunstkabinett" further afield, beginning with Roman Norbert Ketterer's brother Wolfgang, who joined the auctioneering house in 1948. Wolfgang Ketterer branched out on his own as an art dealer in 1953, initially in Stuttgart and then, in 1966, at the Stuck Villa in Munich, where he organized art auctions from 1968 onwards. Later he transferred his place of business to the Karolinenpalais in Brienner Strasse. His son Robert today manages Ketterer-Kunst in Munich, Hamburg and Berlin. And then there was Wilhelm F. Arntz, an extremely knowledgeable connoisseur who later built up the increasingly successful modern art department at Kunsthaus Lempertz in Cologne. His famous art archive is today housed in the Getty Center in Los Angeles. Also worthy of mention is Ewald Rathke, a dedicated and spirited member of staff who later managed the Kunstverein in Frankfurt and then began business as an art dealer and art consultant.

By 1962, Roman Norbert Ketterer's aim of reinstating modern art (which today we refer to as "classic modernism") had been achieved. The "Stuttgarter Kunstkabinett", which had been established solely for this purpose, could not simply go on reaping one success after another. The climax had been reached. Added to this was Roman Norbert Ketterer's personal financial situation in which the high taxes levied in Germany at that time had so mercilessly reduced the profits needed for reinvestment. His private life, too, had been upset by the regrettable but unavoidable dissolution of his marriage. There was nothing left for Roman Norbert Ketterer to do but to embark on something completely new.

Such ventures often do not succeed at the first attempt. Thus it was that, after the first jointly organized auction in autumn 1962, further collaboration with the Milanese auctioneers Finarte was not possible, as a residence and work permit for a holiday house already purchased in Ticino had not been granted. It was through this unfortunate circumstance, however, that a close friend, Graziano Papa, drew Roman Norbert Ketterer's attention to Campione d'Italia, at that time a friendly and still very sleepy fishing village on Lake Lugano, an Italian enclave in Swiss national and economic territory.

In building up his art business in Campione, Roman Norbert Ketterer was able to benefit not only from the vast experience and worldwide connections gained during his years in Stuttgart but also from several circumstances which, although they were largely the result of his own endeavours, may justifiably be considered as strokes of luck. The exhibition of the large collection of Expressionist art at the art museums of Bremen, Hanover, Cologne and Zürich in 1960-61 is one example. And then Roman Norbert Ketterer had since 1954 been the executor of the estate of Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, one of the largest and most significant artists' estates in the history of art. And in Campione, too, Roman Norbert Ketterer had been able to build up a small but extremely loyal staff, consisting primarily of those who had moved with him from Stuttgart, not least his art-historical adviser of the latter years in Stuttgart, Wenzel Nachbaur, who sadly died an all too early death in 1975, and especially Rosemarie Liebert - later to become his second wife - who had been responsible for the organization and bookkeeping at the Stuttgarter Kunstkabinett since 1951.

Roman Norbert Ketterer's gallery was located in the centre of the village close to the lake, while his house stood on the hillside, high above the village, in the midst of a garden overflowing with flowers which he himself used to tend every Monday with the help of a team of five gardeners. As many as twenty three catalogues offering modern art and the works of individual artists were published between the years of 1963 and 1985, all of them of exemplary quality. From 1970 onwards, his daughter Ingeborg and his son-in-law Wolfgang Henze (both of them art historians, the latter the son of the art historian Anton Henze, Münster/Rome) widened the scope of art offered by the Campione gallery by setting up another gallery which, whilst being completely independent, was located in the same building. Towards the end of the 1970s, the two galleries collaborated with each other more and more - on publications on Kirchner, for example, and on the administration of Kirchner's copyrights, on the organization of Kirchner exhibitions in museums and, during the 1980s, on the designing and building of the Kirchner Museum in Davos.

This last-mentioned activity became more and more the care of Roman Norbert Ketterer's son Günther, who had established himself as a trustee and management consultant in Berne, and his daughter-in-law, Günther's wife, Carola Ertle Ketterer. As the granddaughters Alexandra and Cornelia Henze and Carina and Angela Ketterer had now grown up, it was decided, in 1993, to combine the activities of the two Campione galleries and the consulting expertise of Günther and Carola Ketterer in a larger gallery building in Wichtrach near Berne - Galerie Henze & Ketterer - where the activities once begun by Roman Norbert Ketterer could be continued with renewed vitality and commitment. Roman Norbert Ketterer himself had already retired with his wife Rosemarie to Lugano, though this in no way cramped his initiative.

Roman Norbert Ketterer was now interested primarily in the Kirchner Museum in Davos. Kirchner's estate was by its very nature an attraction for any museum, especially the 160 or so surviving sketchbooks containing almost 10,000 drawings. Several museums had been considered suitable, but the idea of a special Kirchner museum seemed to be the most desirable solution. Indeed, Kirchner himself had expressed the wish for such a museum after falling seriously ill in 1916. After visiting Kirchner in Berlin, Kirchner's friend, the archaeologist and collector Botho Graef wrote to Gustav Schiefler in Hamburg on 17 th December 1916: "A Kirchner museum, where the most important things are kept together, would best correspond to his wishes. Perhaps this might be possible later, albeit within modest limits."

In 1980, the director of Davos Tourismus, Bruno Gerber, organized a festive celebration marking the centenary of Ernst Ludwig Kirchner in Davos. In 1981, on the occasion of his 70 th birthday, Roman Norbert Ketterer donated to the community of Davos a significant late work by Kirchner, the theme of which had direct relevance to Davos: "500 th Anniversary of the League of the Ten Jurisdictions in Davos". At the dinner which followed at the Hotel Pöstli in Davos it was decided, quite spontaneously, to establish a Kirchner association for the purpose of founding a Kirchner museum. The founders' meeting in January 1982 was attended by as many as 220 people.

This wide acceptance of the Kirchner museum project, especially among the people of Davos, is ascribable above all to the highly commendable preparatory work of Eberhard W. Kornfeld of Berne. Kornfeld had acquired the "Wildboden House", in which Kirchner had lived and worked between the years of 1923 and 1938, very early on. After renovating the house, Kornfeld opened his quite sizeable Kirchner collection to members of the public during the summer months, already creating, as it were, the embryonic beginnings of a Kirchner museum. It was also Kornfeld who for ten years was responsible for the Kirchner Museum after it opened in the old post office building in Davos Platz in 1982 and made a considerable success of it despite its small size.

Nevertheless, it was precisely on account of the size of the museum that neither Kirchner's wishes nor the needs arising from the artist's estate could be fully accommodated. Consequently, Roman Norbert Ketterer undertook to donate to the Kirchner Museum approximately 500 works by Kirchner as well as the 160 sketchbooks from the estate trust as the nucleus of the museum's own large Kirchner collection on condition that a suitable new museum building would be built. In the course of the building work doubts were raised as to whether the people of Davos would in fact agree to finance this new building. So as not to jeopardise the project, Rosemarie and Roman Norbert Ketterer decided to finance it through the estate trust

The Kirchner Museum in Davos proved to be a piece of good fortune for many, not least for Kirchner and his art, for the latter was now housed in an internationally renowned museum under the professional management of the president of the Kirchner Association, Bruno Gerber, the curators Gabriele Lohberg and Roland Scotti and the museum's business manager Elsbeth Gerber. It could also count on the active support of many people, above all Rosemarie and Roman Norbert Ketterer, Eberhard W. Kornfeld, Carola and Günther Ketterer, Ingeborg and Wolfgang Henze-Ketterer and numerous dedicated members of staff, the so-called "Kirchner Women" (whose ranks not infrequently included men as well). It was a piece of good fortune for the architects Annette Gigon and Mike Guyer, too, because the Kirchner Museum was their first large project, and numerous other museum projects followed as a result. It was a piece of good fortune for Davos on two counts, for it was now a place of pilgrimage not just for lovers of Kirchner's art but also for all who were attracted to the museum for its groundbreaking architecture. And it was yet another piece of good fortune in the career of Roman Norbert Ketterer.

The new museum, now harbouring a collection of 519 works by Kirchner - documented at the time by Wolfgang Henze in an inventory catalogue - was inaugurated on 4 th September 1992. Roman Norbert Ketterer later donated from the estate the numerous surviving negatives of Kirchner's photographs. Those negatives not destined purely for reproduction were documented by Gabriele Lohberg in volume 2 of the inventory catalogue in 1994. In 1994, Roman Norbert Ketterer followed up with a further donation of approximately 700 works from the estate trust, these being published by Roland Scotti in volume 3 of the inventory catalogue in the year 2000. The catalogue of sketchbooks published by Gerd Presler in 1996 is in principle also an inventory catalogue of the Kirchner Museum. As a great many individual and collective donations have meanwhile been made, the Kirchner Museum today boasts a substantial collection, not only of Kirchner's own works but also of works by his contemporaries and pupils and of works of Expressionism in general. Thus the museum's good fortune continues: its excellent exhibitions attract approximately 30,000 visitors every year, and it is one of the very few museums run by private enterprise, being completely independent of public subsidies.

Roman Norbert Ketterer, who on 6 th February 2002 was able to celebrate his 91 st birthday in the best of health (and with an excellent appetite) in the bosom of his family, must have been so proud to have achieved and inspired so much, and so happy to have lived long enough to witness the results and reap the success. A keen sense of what was essential coupled with an unwavering will made all of this possible. Even during the last year of his life, Roman Norbert Ketterer was able to witness yet a further consequence of his activities: the re-establishment and continuation of Othmar Triebold's gallery in Riehen/Basle by his granddaughter Alexandra and his grandson-in-law Marc. His granddaughter Cornelia likewise studies art history and has already gained a lot of work experience in galleries and museums. And his granddaughters Carina and Angela, too, simply cannot wait to get started.

Roman Norbert Ketterer died on 19 th June 2002. He was fortunate to pass away very peacefully and in the company of his family. We are sure that we are acting entirely in accordance with his wishes in dedicating this catalogue to him as a token of our enormous gratitude and recognition, and here we wholeheartedly include Rosemarie Ketterer as well, for its theme is the early work of the great woodcut artist Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, that artist whose work Roman Norbert Ketterer loved and furthered more than any other.

Ingeborg Henze-Ketterer - Günther Ketterer - Carola Ertle Ketterer - Wolfgang Henze-Ketterer
Alexandra Henze Triebold - Marc Triebold - Cornelia Henze - Carina Ketterer - Angela Ketterer.

Galerie Henze & Ketterer
Kirchstrasse 26, CH 3114 Wichtrach
Tel. +41 (0)31 781 06 01
modernart (at) henze-ketterer.com
Galerie Henze & Ketterer & Triebold
Wettsteinstrasse 4, CH 4125 Riehen
Tel. +41 (0)61 641 77 77
ghkt (at) artgalleries.ch