The private art collector is in itself a fascinating and mysterious creature. What do they collect? What pieces are they drawn to? What artistic wonders do their personal collections hold? One can only imagine…
In his latest exhibition at me Collectors Room Berlin, renowned collector Thomas Olbricht presents favourite abstract works from his vast art collection. Pleasantly chaotic in its clashing display of bright colours, painterly gestures and highly textured surfaces ‘My Abstract World’ brings together an enviable and never previously exhibited selection of works dating from the 1960s to the present day. The exhibition features 71 artworks—mostly large-scale paintings—drawn from an extensive collection of 350 works and reveals the impressive result of more than thirty years of dedicated art collecting. Presented as a kind of Wunderkammer in abstract, the exhibition places the highly expressive painterly explorations of André Butzer with the clean lines and minimalism of Jo Baer; the kink-inspired metallic sculptures of Tatiana Trouvé with the dramatic painterly movements of Robert Janitz; and the bright surrealist tendencies of Ali Banisadr with the tight grids and optical illusions of Heimo Zobernig. Unified by Olbricht’s enthusiasm for intense colour and bold expressive gestures, ‘My Abstract World’ is an invitation to enter the personal collections of one of Berlin’s most renowned art collectors.
The unconventional presentation of ‘My Abstract World’ is perhaps the most prominent feature of the exhibition and undoubtedly serves to underscore the collector’s unique approach to art education. Warm and inviting, the exhibition space has been remodelled to appear more like a private residence than a traditional white cube gallery. In contrast to the often stark and formal aesthetic of many contemporary galleries, the artworks displayed in ‘My Abstract World’ are positioned around makeshift living room spaces. These comfortable communal spaces feature a warm and friendly assortment of designer furniture, armchairs, lighting fixtures and oriental carpets that encourage the viewer to linger in the space and engage in meaningful and absorbing contemplation of their surroundings. A plethora of art-based reading materials have been made available to visitors, with immense piles of magazines, books, gallery brochures, auction catalogues and old invitation cards scattered within the space. This unconventional display model serves to encourage visitors to absorb the aesthetics of the exhibition at their own leisure in a comfortable and playful setting, an approach that is particularly geared towards those who are uncertain or unfamiliar with visual arts.
In addition to the visual impact of the exhibition, ‘My Abstract World’ is accompanied by a lively soundtrack compiled by Berlin-based art and music publicist Max Dax. The soundtrack was conceived as a way to explore the close association between music and the visual arts, particularly in terms of the music that inspired artists in the development of specific artworks. Prior to the creation of the soundtrack, Dax questioned the exhibiting artists about their own relationships to music. The twelve track compilation features a wide variety of songs from different musical genres and has been designed to accompany particular paintings, to invoke a new range of associations within the viewer-listener. The diverse and eclectic soundtrack provides an additional layer of interest and understanding to the works, offering the viewer an alternative and multi-sensory means of experiencing visual art.
Artists include: Etel Adnan, Ahmed Alsoudani, John M Armleder, Jo Baer, Ali Banisadr, Max Bill, GL Brierley, Jonas Burgert, André Butzer, Shen Chen, Ouyang Chun, Albrecht Demitz, Zhivago Duncan, Paul Fägerskiöld, Mark Flood, Bernard Frize, Andreas Golder, Kuno Gonschior, Henriette Grahnert, Katharina Grosse, Wang Guangle, Peter Halley, Federico Herrero, Olaf Holzapfel, Vladimir Houdek, Callum Innes, John Isaacs, Parker Ito, Robert Janitz, Sergej Jensen, Imi Knoebel, Caroline Kryzecki, Robert Longo, Marcin Maciejowski, Joseph Marioni, Sarah Morris, Loredana Nemes, David Nicholson, David Ostrowski, Daniel Pflumm, Sigmar Polke, Liang Quan, Gerhard Richter, Sterling Ruby, Thomas Ruff, Chen Ruo Bing, Adrian Sauer, Thomas Scheibitz, Martina Steckholzer, Henning Strassburger, Christine Streuli, Wolfgang Tillmans, Rosemarie Trockel, Tatiana Trouvé, Brent Wadden, Ekrem Yalcindag, Toby Ziegler and Heimo Zobernig.
Caitlin Eyre is an Australian freelance writer living and working in Berlin.