“The Bauhaus Meets Mad Men” – Postwar Design by Franz Ehrlich Goes Under the Hammer Saturday, Feb. 5 The Cold War is Collectible: Postwar furniture by Franz Ehrlich rescued from an East Berlin apartment two years ago will go under the hammer this Saturday, February 5, 2011 in Lambertville, NJ.
News-Antique.com - Feb 03,2011 - Lambertville, NJ -- Feb. 3, 2011 – Bauhaus enthusiasts and Modernism fans will have a shot at rare postwar Bauhaus furniture from an East Berlin estate offered by Authentics, in Lambertville, NJ, one hour from Manhattan.
The two Bauhaus sideboard sets are being shown at the Rago Arts Modern Design Auction this Saturday February 5, 2011. The sale begins at noon. The pieces were designed by Franz Ehrlich, who studied and worked at the Bauhaus in Dessau, Germany before it was shut down by the Nazis in 1933.
The Ehrlich group consists of two lowboard/highboard sets, a total of four pieces. (Only one of the two sets is pictured.) They have sliding glass doors, drawers, shelves and generous storage space. The original hardware and keys are included. The Ehrlich lot is 836. A companion midcentury lot, 837 features a pair of upholstered cocktail chairs from East Germany and a glass-top table from Czechoslovakia.
The Ehrlich sideboards show every bit of the functionality and all the clean lines you expect from Bauhaus design, but they also radiate a warmth that is sometimes missing from other Bauhaus furniture.
“Work by Bauhaus superstars is well known. But it’s not always easy to find furniture designed by lesser known, under-the-radar Bauhaus artists such as Franz Ehrlich,” said Authentics owner Tom Conrad. "Re-issued versions of Bauhaus classics and 'Bauhaus-inspired' pieces are common. But people are definitely interested in the real thing when it comes along,” he added.
Designed by Ehrlich in 1956 and manufactured at the venerable Deutsche Werkstaetten, Hellerau in 1963, the sideboards have a sleek “Bauhaus Meets Mad Men“ look.
They would have been equally at home in 1960s suburban Westchester as is they proved to be in the postwar flats along Stalin-Allee in East Berlin. Ehrlich’s furniture grew to be enormously popular, particularly among the East German intelligentsia. Demand was high, but it was often in short supply.
Twenty years after the fall of the Wall, Cold War is Collectible. The Ehrlich offering is expected to attract furniture collectors, who cut their teeth on Bauhaus superstars and want to broaden their holdings with work by lesser-known Bauhaus designers. It is also likely to appeal to younger enthusiasts, who like the pedigree but are also buying for the look and scale.
The Ehrlich lot taps into a rich vein of political and design drama that marked the designer’s career. Known for his leftist views, Ehrlich was arrested by the Nazis soon after he left the Bauhaus. He spent part of the war years in Buchenwald Concentration Camp and was later forced into an army penal unit.
The Bauhaus aesthetic was unorthodox and fell out of official favor in postwar East Germany. Ehrlich was criticized by the Stalinist elite in the 50s, but he persisted and found ways to incorporate the best of Bauhaus design into his work, eventually becoming one of the country’s most accomplished architect-designers.
Ehrlich, who died in 1984, has only recently been re-discovered. His work was showcased in a retrospective