The Kollwitz Collector Helmut Goedeckemeyer

World War I had just come to an end when the young Helmut Goedeckemeyer (1898–1983) saw a depiction of a mother and child by his contemporary Käthe Kollwitz. It touched him so deeply that he began collecting the artist’s works. Over the course of the decades that followed, the trained chemist and later employee of the Pelikan company’s Frankfurt branch amassed some 200 of her prints as well as a number of her drawings and bronzes. He also acquired French and German prints, illustrated books, and small-scale sculptures of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Goedeckemeyer’s collection would ultimately encompass more than 5,000 works, of which those by Kollwitz formed the core. In 1964, he sold his Kollwitz holdings to the City of Frankfurt for the Städtische Galerie (Municipal Gallery) affiliated with the Städelsches Kunstinstitut. Today these holdings make up one of the largest Classical Modern work complexes in the Städel collection. A longstanding member of the Städelscher Museums-Verein (Society of Friends of the Städel), Goedeckemeyer moreover donated Honoré Daumier’s Ratapoil and more than fifty works of French printmaking to the museum in the 1970s.

Helmut Goedeckemeyer marked most of the works in his collection with the abbreviation “Goe” in an oval. On closer inspection, it can be found at the lower edges and on the backs of many of the prints and on the backs and inner sides of the bronzes.

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