Four German collectors and their passions

The Anglophile, the Entertainer, the Benefactor and the America lover


The Anglophile: Christian Boros

Owner of his own communications agency in Wuppertal, not far from Cologne, Christian Boros (b. 1964) is one of collectors who is most sought after by the younger galleries. For Mr Boros, collecting art is not only a hobby, it is also part of his creative work: “I can learn a lot from artists”.

He gives at least one or two hours a day to art and began collecting more than 10 years ago, concentrating on a few names, chosen to reflect the Zeitgeist. He is particularly interested in art which sets up a dialogue with television, fashion, advertising, the world of communications.

The artists chosen by Mr Boros were all born in the 1960s and 1970s: Damien Hirst, Tracey Emin, Steven Gontarski (all graduates of London’s Goldsmiths College); Rirkrit Tiravanija, Sarah Lucas, John Bock, Daniel Pflumm, Michel Majerus, Olafur Iliasson, Tobias Rehberger, Andreas Slominski, the Turner prizewinner Wolfgang Tillmans and Elizabeth Peyton.

The collection numbers about 220 items at present, and was begun by Mr Boros when he was 18 with a work by Joseph Beuys, which he later sold in order to reinvest the money in art of his own generation. “It is important for me to concentrate on artists of my own time, because it helps me to know more about myself. There are some beautiful works by Donald Judd or Andy Warhol, which I greatly admire, but I do not feel the need to own them. I am fascinated by people who are the same age as me, but who are so very different from me.

In 2001 a selection of pieces from the Boros Collection were exhibited in the Museum Morsbroich in Leverkusen, entitled “Freestyle” (catalogue published by Walther König, Cologne).

The entertainer: Harald Falckenberg

Harald Falckenberg, who is a lawyer and entrepreneur in Hamburg, is considered to be one of the most colourful collectors in contemporary Germany. His eclectic collection has been described by the German press as “entertaining and ironic, individual and contradictory, extravagant and scurrilous”.

His collection consists of about 900 pieces, from Pop to Minimal, Conceptual and Fluxus, right up to work realised in the 1990s. It includes pieces by artists such as Donald Bächler, Johannes Wohnseifer, Joseph Beuys, Andy Warhol, Martin Kippenberger, Christo, Robert Rauschenberg, Keith Haring, Gilbert & George and Jonathan Meese.

The collection is housed in a former industrial building, now transformed into an exhibition space, in Hamburg, the Phoenix Art Forum, to be visited by appointment only (% +49 40 32506762, fax +49 40 32506763).

The space was inaugurated in July 2001 and Falckenberg refuses to call it a museum. It has 2,300 square-metres for temporary exhibitions from other private collections, and 1,700 square-metres for his own collection in visible storage.

The benefactor: Paul Maenz

For the last 20 years, Paul Maenz and his colleague Gert de Vries have jointly managed their own gallery in Cologne, one of the most important in the history of German art of the 1970s and 80s.

In 1991, Mr Maenz decided to leave the business and move to Berlin, “the only true metropolis in Germany”, recently liberated by the unification of Germany.

He is fascinated by the layers of history and by the dynamism of Berlin, and is one of the most active promoters of the city’s image as the capital of contemporary art, artists and galleries.

He began collecting as part of his work as a gallery owner in the 1960s. In 1994 he donated his collection to the city of Weimar, as his “personal contribution to the reconstruction of eastern Germany” (the collection was partly donated, partly sold and partly given to the city on permanent loan). Mr Maenz explains his choice of that particular city: “For Germans, Weimar is rather like Florence to the Italians: one of the central locations of our cultural history…Schiller lived there, Goethe, Nietzsche, Herder; musicians like Liszt, Schumann, Strauss; Gropius founded the Bauhaus there in 1919”.

The Maenz collection covers the years 1960 to 2000, from minimal to conceptual art, to the Transavanguardia and the Neue Wilden; it also includes work by Keith Haring and Anselm Kiefer.

In 1999, the year when Weimar was European City of Culture, the Neues Museum Weimar opened with an exhibition from the Maenz Collection.

Loves America: Rolf Ricke

“Einfach Kunst”, simply art, is the title of the recent exhibition featuring the Rolf Ricke collection at the Neues Museum, Nürnberg, presented on the occasion of the permanent loan to the museum of nearly 200 pieces from the collection.

Mr Ricke is another example of the collector cum gallery owner. His collection concentrates on American art, with names such as Richard Artschwager, Bill Bollinger, Donald Judd, Gary Kühn, Barry Le Va, Fabian Marcaccio, Matthew McCaslin, Thom Merrick, David Reed, Richard Serra, Keith Sonnier and Jessica Stockholder.

Rolf Ricke began his career in 1963 in Kassel, overwhelmed by Documenta, then in 1968 he moved his gallery to Cologne where it still is. The gallery focuses mainly on American art, from minimal to post-minimal and process art, right up to the youngest generation of West Coast painters. But the collection also reflects the gallery’s activity and includes German artists such as Holger Bunk, Günter Umberg and Birgit Werres.