Not one for allowing either himself or his collection be influenced by trends or concepts, Dirk Lehr is a collector who takes comfort in knowing what he likes. Based in Berlin, the trademark lawyer’s collection has a heavy focus on contemplating painting but Lehr makes sure to never find himself limited to one medium, artist, or style. Here, Lehr presents a selection of works from the Dirk Lehr Collection and tells us about how he started collecting and what continues to fuel his passion for doing so.
“I am forty-nine years old and living and working in Berlin as a copyright and trade mark lawyer for more than twenty years now. I was born and raised in the south of Germany, in Heidelberg to be precise, and it is there where I studied law. Over the years I wrote several books that dealt with subjects concerning copyrights, trademarks and competition law and a biography about Mr. Hermann Krages – the most hated, most discussed and most influential stockbroker after World War II in West Germany. I also wrote for the German issue of the Financial Times about the art market from 2001 to 2005.
My interest in collecting started in 1988, when I was eighteen, working part-time in a local art gallery, and had just bought my first artwork. From this moment on everything was about the next piece to acquire. At the beginning I was very into pop art, perhaps because I am generation MTV, a pop kid if you will. And Andy Warhol, of course. I love his “death&disaster” series and I’m very happy to have the opportunity to have a look at one of his electric chairs every day; it fits very well in a kitchen with all the electricity in there. But the most influential artist for me was Robert Rauschenberg, who I’m very happy to have works by him in my collection.
For me, it’s important to collect what I like. It can be photography, like the works of Andreas Gefeller who became a very close friend of mine, conceptual art, like by Robert Barry or a fine art print, like by Rainer Eisch. I find the idea of following a trend or a specific concept trite, and I never wanted to be limited by a trend, a concept or even by myself.
I am very interested in contemporary painting. I am curious to see how artists are dealing with this subject in the present – a subject which is said to be “old fashioned” because everything is supposed to be already said and done. Birgit Jensen for example, a Düsseldorf based painter is using the technique of silkscreens. In her case the painting process takes place on the foil that is used for the printing screen, something that is a unique position amongst painters. The British artist Rowena Dring is sewing “paintings” from pieces of fabric and her painting process takes place on the computer, and the work of British artist Christopher Winter oscillates between comic and realism. Three painters, three different techniques, but each of their works have something in common: they appear “flat” and flawless in their own way, something that I appreciate very much. Miriam Vlaming and Jan Holthoffs work is the complete opposite – it looks very washy. I like their dilapidated and somewhat rotten aesthetic. You can phsyically see the torture on the canvas and the development process. For me, painting isn‘t dead or behind the times – it can absolutely be very fresh and surprising.”
Dirk Lehr, Berlin