The History of Galerie Gerda Bassenge
On November 14, 1946, just a few months after the end of WWII, a momentous event took place in the destroyed city of Berlin when art work and books were once again offered at auction. Gerd Rosen, an experienced book seller, who just barely survived the war due to his Jewish background, opened the first gallery in Germany after the war next to a book shop. The first auction there gave an important impulse for the book and art trade in Berlin, which had ended abruptly in 1933 and which was awakening to new life among the ruins of the city. Located on the Kurfürstendamm, Galerie Rosen soon became a center for cultural life in the city. The exhibitions gave a whole generation of Berliners the feeling of being a lively part of the artistic circle of the time. In 1961 Rosen died at age 58 and the gallery at Kurfürstendamm 215 was continued by his colleagues until late 1962.
Rosen´s closest colleague Gerda Bassenge, who had started working for him in 1953, opened the Galerie Gerda Bassenge in new rooms at Kurfürstendamm 206 on January 7, 1963. From the beginning the most important employees of Rosen were a part of the firm. In June 1963 the first auction catalogue was published including texts by Wilhelm Soldan, who had started working for Rosen shortly after 1945. He stayed with Galerie Bassenge up until shortly before his death in 1997 and was a formative force in the firm. The gallery continued to set the pace for exhibitions; the work of Friedrich Meckseper, Gabriele Münter, Pierre Soulages, Marcel Brodthaers and many others were shown to the Berlin public. In 1967 Gerda´s son Tilman joined the firm and in 1968 he initiated the move of the meanwhile internationally acclaimed auction house to a new location. The ivy-covered villa, in Erdener Straße in the picturesque district of Grunewald, is located in historic surroundings; a plaque on the house across the street indicates where the publisher Samuel Fischer lived and one can discover many other villas in the area which had prominent inhabitants.
Our tradition makes us one of the oldest auction houses in Berlin. Over the last 45 years Galerie Gerda Bassenge has published over 400 catalogues on Old Master Prints and Paintings, Modern Art, Rare and Valuable Books, Autographs and Photography, as well as on special themes or collections such as drawings and prints by Käthe Kollwitz, historical posters, bibliophile collections, etc. They are the basis with which our experts, supported by international representatives, try to reach the varied interests of buyers and sellers, as well as collectors and art and book lovers. Twice a year, in Spring and Fall, comprehensive and well-researched catalogues are published which present our sales in a professional and attractive format.
Our book auctions include rare and valuable books of all periods, from medieval manuscripts and incunabula to illustrated books and works of classical modernism and contemporary literature. Since the first auction autographs and documents have also been a part of the "Literature and Book Illustration of the 17th-19th Century" catalogue.
The Art Department offers all areas of the fine arts with a focus on works on paper. Galerie Gerda Bassenge is among the leading international houses for Old Master prints, and recently our auctions of paintings and modern art have also achieved record results.
The Photography Department, which moved to Rankestraße near the Memorial Church (Gedächtniskirche) in 2005, covers all areas of the medium from the beginnings of photography in the 19th century to contemporary photo-based art and photography books. To reach our international clientele we publish our photography catalogues in English.
"Galerie Gerda Bassenge Kunst- und Buchauktionen" is an individual house whose distinctive profile is valued throughout the world. We offer long-standing experience to our clients - collectors, museums, art dealers, gallery owners, libraries and book sellers - who we assist in all decisions with competent and individual advice.
We invite you to discover the fascinating world of art and rare books with us.