Independent Collectors

Haus N Collection & ROCCA Stiftung

Two collections joined forces to create a unique cultural experience in an abandoned car dealership in Kiel, Germany.

IGNACIO URIARTE, ASDFGHJKLÖ, 2012. Courtesy the artist and Philipp von Rosen Galerie, Köln
IGNACIO URIARTE, ASDFGHJKLÖ, 2012. Courtesy the artist and Philipp von Rosen Galerie, Köln

What happens when two collections of contemporary art are put together in one room? Joëlle and Eric Romba of the ROCCA Foundation and Peter and Gunda Niemann of the Sammlung Haus N joined forces to create a unique cultural experience in an abandoned car dealership in Kiel, Germany. In an exclusive to IC, the four collectors share their stories about setting up the exhibition and thoughts about the responsibilities they share as art collectors.

Joëlle and Eric Romba of the ROCCA Foundation and Peter and Gunda Niemann of the Sammlung Haus N joined forces to create a unique cultural experience in an abandoned car dealership in Kiel, Germany. In an exclusive to IC, the four collectors share their stories about setting up the exhibition and thoughts about the responsibilities they share as art collectors.

How did you get into collecting and what do you enjoy most about it?

I bought my first picture at the age of 16 – a print with geometric forms. I’ve lost it. Why did I buy it? It was more than just me decorating my teenage room. I had a school friend at the time who was close with some artists from Kiel’s Art Academy and I wanted to be part of it but I was too young. I guess I bought my first artwork for the same reasons I buy art nowadays: being curious and exploring unknown territories.

We bought our first work of art together around 15 years ago. We visited the owner of a gallery I used to work for and were thrilled by the artists work in the show and bought a painting by Julien Michel. We had no money in our pockets but a lot of enthusiasm.

How did you meet?

A dear friend introduced Joëlle to me as a person who might be able to sell some of the art we had grown out of.

THORSTEN BRINKMANN, Monte Del Snow, 2007. Courtesy the artist and Sammlung Haus N
THORSTEN BRINKMANN, Monte Del Snow, 2007. Courtesy the artist and Sammlung Haus N

The Sammlung Haus N is based in Kiel and the ROCCA Stiftung in Dresden and Berlin. What made you decide to do an exhibition together?

It all started with Joëlle’s proposal to do something together – what ever that may be! We thought about doing something in Dresden where Joëlle and Eric are well connected. Soon after that we came across an empty car dealership and instantly we knew that we had to act right away.

Indeed our motto was something along the lines of “Don´t talk, just do it”. Ever since we met Peter and Gunda we always wanted to realize an exhibition together and soon realized that it was something they were very interested in, too. We wanted to become “partners in art”.

What was the work process for setting up the exhibition? Did you pick works collaboratively or did you each choose what to contribute?

We agreed on a concept we had already talked about: “Applause, Applause“. Every party selected works from their collection. We met, we talked on the phone. It was easy. We had more material than we needed. Since we are living in Kiel we took care of the organizational part. It was fun working on the exhibition– it was no real effort but instead a process of discovering new territory. We installed two works we had never really seen before plus the works from the ROCCA Collection. We decided to mix everything – Joëlle and Eric gave us a free hand.

We wanted to give Peter and Gunda a carte blanche in terms of curating the exhibition. We sent them our works and they set up the installation. We did not know what to expect. When we came to have a look at the exhibition we were amazed to see how they managed to install all works in a very thoughtful and balanced way. It almost seemed as if the works were all meant to be in this very exhibition. Especially the work by Wu Tsang and the video pieces by Ragnar Kjartansson and The National created a special atmosphere for “Applause, Applause” which was noticeable to all visitors. Since you would not expect to see an exhibition like this in an abandoned location in Kiel, the experience of it was absolutely overwhelming.

SLAWOMIR ELSNER, Panorama 71, 2006. Courtesy the artist und Galerie Gebr. Lehmann, Dresden
SLAWOMIR ELSNER, Panorama 71, 2006. Courtesy the artist und Galerie Gebr. Lehmann, Dresden

In what ways do the two collections differ from each other? Are there any themes or issues on which your collections specialize respectively?

Both collections are dedicated to Contemporary art. The ROCCA Collection follows five themes that we call Contemporary Op Art, architecture in art, photorealistic art, the search of identity in photography and contemporary artists and their art historical antitypes.

How does each collection benefit from the dialogue you initiated?

Is it really a question of benefitting from each other? It was more a trial through which something new was created. Together we founded „Mittlere Zusammenarbeit – Mid Size Cooperation“ – a concept suggesting how mid-size collections can work together and create an exhibition, a reading, a party, a book, whatever really. Ideally these events are hosted in a city that, due to its size, has a limited cultural program such as Kiel.

We always thought of it as an experiment, a chemical reaction almost. You put two substances together without knowing what will happen, how the reaction or the outcome will be.

HENRIEKE RIBBE, The Greatest, 2007. Courtesy the artist and Sammlung Haus N
HENRIEKE RIBBE, The Greatest, 2007. Courtesy the artist and Sammlung Haus N

The exhibition is housed in an empty car dealership. What made you choose this location and what were the obstacles you needed to overcome?

Everything was fairly easy. With Joëlle’s ideas in the back of our heads we walked the streets of Kiel not looking for anything in particular. By coincident we passed an empty car dealership of which we know the owner – an art lover himself. The only obstacle was that we had to be quick because the space was up for sale. Luckily we acted quickly enough: by now the property has been sold and the car dealership will be removed.

The show is entitled “Applause, Applause”. How did you come up with that title?

ER: Peter came up with this idea. We instantly loved it and came up with ideas that would make a great contribution. I think it has not been a brainchild for that long. It came to him in a very spontaneous manner so he wrote it down. We discussed it and went ahead.

Your exhibition shows how collectors become curators. What is the role of the collector in the world of today’s contemporary art?

As a collector you have to be careful to refrain from collecting art to become in some ways famous for collecting yourself. You need to collect for yourself, not for the “Applause” of other people. On the other hand you can show what you have and let people see the art from your collection, especially in regions where contemporary art is difficult to come by. One of the visitors told me at the opening that the exhibition has the same quality as bigger exhibitions he’s seen in Berlin without seeming too forced, as some cultural venues in Berlin tend to be. As a collector you are not a curator but rather a composer of things. The composing part is also something we do at home when we install the works.

I agree. Composer is the right term for describing our role in this exhibition. We love art and do not think about the works as “ours”. We are interested in sharing them with as many people as possible. Art is a somewhat public domain and has to be exhibited. Thus it is a collector’s responsibility to show it and not to hide it. It is for this reason we are driven to create exhibitions.

Where do you see the future of your collections headed?

The more you see and learn the more difficult it gets to see something utterly surprising. During this year’s Berlin Gallery Weekend we found Claudia Compte’s work at Gallery König to be something new and astonishing. We use collecting art as a medium to stay in touch with the value system of the next generation. We’d rather understand them and be friends instead of becoming cynical and alone when we celebrate our 90th birthdays. Collect on!

We assume – and fear – that we will buy more art. Turns out once you started collecting you cannot stop. At least this is true for us. It is an obsession. Our collection is constantly growing and in the process of changing. We secretly hope that our children will one day be equally enthusiastic about art and will want to look after our collection and foundation in the future.

RAGNAR KJARTANSSON and THE NATIONAL, A Lot of Sorrow, 2013-2014. Courtesy the artist and Sammlung Haus N
RAGNAR KJARTANSSON and THE NATIONAL, A Lot of Sorrow, 2013-2014. Courtesy the artist and Sammlung Haus N
RAGNAR KJARTANSSON and THE NATIONAL, A Lot of Sorrow, 2013-2014. Courtesy the artist and Sammlung Haus N
RAGNAR KJARTANSSON and THE NATIONAL, A Lot of Sorrow, 2013-2014. Courtesy the artist and Sammlung Haus N

The Haus N Collection and the ROCCA Stiftung are both featured in the BMW ART GUIDE by INDEPENDENT COLLECTORS.

Germany (113)

You are the Concept

Private sessions with IC founder and strategist Christian Kaspar Schwarm.

Sammlung Gräfling

The young couple merges private and public spaces by displaying their collection at their home in a prestigious historic apartment.

Mario & Julia von Kelterborn

The von Kelterborn Collection isn’t for the faint of heart—although that’s not to say the works are visually jarring.

Julia Stoschek

Sergej Timofejev in conversation with Julia Stoschek: one of the most active and famous collectors of time-based art.

Boros Bunker #4

This former techno-club has been home to the private collection and residence of Christian and Karen Boros.

Christine and Andrew Hall

Interview with the collectors behind Hall Art Foundation

The Walther Collection

A collection of photographs, spanning the early days of photography to the contemporary

Philara Collection

Since the mid 1990s, Gil Bronner’s collection has grown to more than 1 400 works

haubrok projects

Lollie Barr meets collector Axel Haubrok in Lichtenberg

Wurlitzer Berlin-Pied-à-Terre Collection

Gudrun and Bernd Wurlitzer have created a space where artworks sit comfortably alongside signs of everyday life


Geraldine Michalke provides one of the most dynamic sites for aesthetic exchanges in Berlin

The Feuerle Collection

Désiré Feuerle has turned a site of isolation and paranoia into a place infused with humanity, lightness and sensuality

Ingrid & Thomas Jochheim

The collector couple describes the discovery process, which has led them to around 700 artworks to date, as emotional

ARNDT Collection

Tiffany Wood and Matthias Arndt aim to collect works that create disturbance

Alexander Tutsek-Stiftung

Alexander Tutsek and Dr. Eva-Maria Fahrner-Tutsek share a passion for glass

PRIOR Art Space

Oliver Elst and Laura del Arco have built significant collections, both individually and together

Elke and Arno Morenz Collection

A collection about seven postwar avant-garde movements

BRAUNSFELDER Family Collection – Gute Nacht

An exhibition inspired by a song from Franz Schubert’s cycle “Winterreise” (1827)

Museum Brandhorst

Francesca Gavin and Benjamin Jaworskyj explore this dazzling space in Munich.


Video art in times of crises: Selection 12 presents the work of Berlin artist and performer Constantin Hartenstein.

The Essence of Existence at Woods Art Institute

The Woods Art Institute (WAI) is a park destination near Hamburg for the experience, teaching & creation of art located in nature, as part of the Sachsenwald Forest.

Collection Night

A new twilight initiative takes places in Berlin to bring private collections together in a special programme.

Wege Zur Welt / Connections To The World

The Hildebrand Collection showcases its thirteenth temporary exhibition at its Leipzig home, the G2 Kunsthalle.

Alexander Tutsek Stiftung – About Us

See inside the exhibition, About Us, intended as a contribution to the discourse on contemporary photography in China.

You Are Here

"You are here" presents works from the Peters-Messer Collection, exhibited at the Werkschauhalle in Leipzig's former cotton spinning mill.

Warhol and Works on Paper

Editions and works on paper from The Dirk Lehr Collection.

Art is a Window – Christian Kaspar Schwarm

Una Meistere in conversation in Berlin with IC founder Christian Kaspar Schwarm.

Young Desire and Cuperior

A young collector pushing young artists to be seen and heard.

Kunstwerk – Sammlung Klein

Alison and Peter W. Klein are two collectors who do not follow art-market trends but instead only buy what they love.

The Peters-Messer Collection at the Weserburg

Bremen’s river museum, the Weserburg, hosted works of the Peters-Messer Collection, provoking an investigation of present day qualms and the function of art alongside these.

Friedrich & Johanna Gräfling

The young collectors with collaboration at the heart of their collection.

ALLES NOTWENDIGE (Everthing Necessary)

We newly introduce Braunsfelder – the private initiative of a Cologne family, who in their current exhibition (which can be visited) present the urgency for art, especially in difficult times.

Dirk Lehr Collection

A look inside the Berlin-based collection that refuses to follow trends.

The Art of Recollecting

A selection of artworks from the Hildebrand Collection that explore individual and collective memories.

Max & Corina Krawinkel

What might have initially begun as two collectors with two very different tastes has now resulted in one of Germany’s most important collections of contemporary art by West German artists.

Generation Loss

With fifteen exhibitions under its belt and over 100 000 visitors through its doors, the Julia Stoschek Collection is officially celebrating its 10th anniversary.

Recent Histories

Uniting the perspectives of contemporary artists of African descent who investigate social identity.

Yvonne Roeb

Inside the studio of the artist with the unusual collection.

Christian Kaspar Schwarm “Young Collections”

Inside the constantly growing and unconventional collection of the IC co-founder.

The Vague Space

The continuously contouring art collection from Independent Collectors’ co-founder.

Boros Bunker #3

A look inside the belly of Berlin's most known World War II Bunker.

Gudrun & Bernd Wurlitzer

On the occasion of the sixth edition of Berlin Art Week, Gudrun and Bernd Wurlitzer will be opening up their home and private collection to the public.

Colors of Descents

Taking you on a time-warp to the gaming iconography of the early 1990s.

Why Am I Actually German?

The exhibition from Kiel's Haus N Collection and Sammlung FIEDE were on display at the Kunstverein Wiesen.

Geometric Abstraction

What came first – the chocolate bar or the collection?


An exhibition on display at Weserburg’s Museum of Modern Art, featuring works from the Miettinen Collection in Berlin and Helsinki, that presents insights into the contemporary art scene in Finland.

Anti Social Distancing

As an anti statement to current new norms, Johanna and Friedrich Gräfling have compiled a selection of works from their collection in a visual narrative.

Gudrun & Bernd Wurlitzer 2017

After the German reunion Gudrun and Bernd Wurlitzer witnessed the gallery scene in Berlin change dramatically.

Schloss Kummerow Collection

A world-class contemporary photography collection housed in a baroque-style castle in Germany’s Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania.

me Collectors Room – Picha/Pictures

"Picha/Pictures – Between Nairobi & Berlin" at Berlin's me Collectors Room features artworks by Berlin-based artists and children that live in Kibera, East Africa’s largest slum.

Deichtorhallen Hamburg

From the beginning of 2011 the Falckenberg Collection belongs to the Deichtorhallen Hamburg, one of Europe’s largest exhibition centers for contemporary art and photography.

Gill Bronner

Interview with the collector behind the Philara Collection.

Goetz Collection

An internationally significant collection of contemporary art located in Munich.

The Order Of Things

Exploring how the organization of photographs into systematic sequences or typologies has affected modern visual culture.

How to Be Unique

An exploration of the interlacing of textual, structural, and lingual elements and painting with a special emphasis on their material manifestations.

Grässlin Collection

Providing an overview of the history of Austrian, German and Swiss painting over the last thirty-five years, as well as the story of one of the most notable German private collections.

New Acquisitions

In their second IC Online Exhibition, Leipzig’s G2 Kunsthalle celebrates its second anniversary of the foundation with a selection of new acquisitions from the Hildebrand Collection.

Lines of Quiet Beauty

Located in a former residential and commercial property from the 1960‘s, the Swiss architect Hans Rohr transformed into a home for contemporary art with over 2 700 square metres of exhibition space.

Kuhn Collection

Offering a bright perspective of young contemporary art.

Archivio Conz x KW

Archivio Conz presents “Pause: Broken Sounds/Remote Music. Prepared pianos from the Archivio Conz collection” at the KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin.

Through A Glass, Clearly

Exhibition at the G2 Kunsthalle showcases new works on paper from artists Sebastian Burger and Stefan Guggisberg.

Kuhn Collection I

This exhibition is the first in a series in which Michael Kuhn and Alexandra Rockelmann share works from the Kuhn Collection on IC.

Recording Memories

Mimi Kolaneci shares parts of his collection

Haus N Collection & Wemhöner Collection

ach, die sind ja heute so unpolitisch

Blinky Palermo Printed Matter

Rüdiger Maaß quite religiously collects artist and exhibition paraphernalia surrounding Blinky Palermo.

RealitätsCheck (Reality Check)

“Reality Check” presents works from the the ‘Art’Us Collectors’ Collective’, a combined effort of four private collections in Berlin, Düsseldorf, Munich and Stuttgart.

Primary Gestures

The Alexander Tutsek-Stiftung in Munich has an active interdisciplinary program committed to the special, the neglected, and the overlooked in art and science.

Dominic & Cordula Sohst-Brennenstuhl

Talk about being part of the “Young Collections” series at Weserburg.

Oliver Osborne: Der Kleine Angsthase

We’ve all experienced fear this year. The exhibition DER KLEINE ANGSTHASE at Braunsfelder, curated by Nils Emmerichs, presents works by Oliver Osborne, as well as a conversation with Nicolaus Schafhausen.

STUDIO BERLIN – Boros Foundation x Berghain

We are here with insight into the seductive new Berlin happening, STUDIO BERLIN, with an interview with Karen Boros and Juliet Kothe, Artistic Directors of the project.

Philara Collection 2016

Gil Bronner’s Stiftung Philara is on the move.

Jan Peter Kern

Death is Beautiful

me Collectors Room Berlin/Stiftung Olbricht

My Abstract World

Haupt Collection

Dreissig Silberlinge

Wemhöner Collection

»The art I encounter and surround myself with improves my quality of life. It gives me strength and inspires me,«

Désiré Feuerle

Publicly accessible private collection in an old bunker.

Lapo Simeoni

Collectors who have a special bond with Berlin.

Timo Miettinen

Finnish collector talks about the impossibility of ignoring Berlin’s relevance in today’s art world.

Debunking the myths

IC Director Nina Raftopoulo helps new collectors develop confidence.

From Sponsorship to Authorship

Creative workshops for brands who want to become great story-tellers.

Kai Bender

Collectors who have a special bond with Berlin.

Olaf Schirm

Collectors who have a special bond with Berlin.

Nils Grossien

100 Years of DADA with the last living DADAIST of Germany: PRINZ

Manfred Herrmann

The Berlin based tax consultant Manfred Herrmann and his wife art historian Burglind-Christin Schulze-Herrmann have been collecting contemporary art for the last 30 years.

me Collectors Room – Private Exposure

For the fifth time, the Olbricht Foundation has invited London Metropolitan University students from the ‘Curating the Contemporary’ Master’s program in collaboration with the Whitechapel Gallery, to curate and develop an exhibition with works from the extensive art collection of Thomas Olbricht.

Harald Falckenberg

The Parallel World of Harald Falckenberg – Daiga Rudzāte spoke with German art collector Harald Falckenberg in Hamburg about art as a historical document and the relationship between freedom and collecting.

The Mechanics of Minimalism

Sometimes someone’s own profession and artistic interests go hand in hand. At least thematically.


From a very early age, Pétur Arason enjoyed visiting artists in their studios with his father. Today, Arason has built up his own collection spanning more than 1 200 works.

Wilhelm Schürmann

Together with collector and photographer Wilhelm Schürmann we have started the new On-Site category “Inside Sailing”, which brings you fresh photographs from the art world on a regular basis

Aus Ihrer Mitte Entspringt Die Kraft

The Reinking Collection is a place where man and art come together in order to evolve as one.

Behind Your Eyes

Tobias Gombert is an art collector who just loves to learn.

Kunststiftung Meier-Linnert

German collector, Gerd Meier-Linnert, is someone who sees the beauty in simple shapes.

The Secret Garden

Originally founded in 2001 and opened up to the public five years later, the Gerisch Collection hosts an extensive collection in the surroundings of its very own sculpture park, where art can be found down winding paths, in hidden corners and on ponds among blossoming water lilies.

Ingvild Goetz

Margarita Zieda talks to Ingvild Goetz about the talent involved in differentiating a good piece of work from a lucky one hit wonder.

Cindy Sherman – Works from the Olbricht Collection

Arguably one of the most important photographers of the late 20th Century, Cindy Sherman is not just a master of disguise but also a master at captivating her audiences.

Gute Kunst? Wollen!

Born into a family of textile merchants that spans over four generations and a long tradition of passionate art collecting Thomas Rusche’s passion for collecting art started early, with his first purchase at the age of 14. Over the years that followed, his passion for collecting has grown into a vast accumulation of 17th century Old Masters, contemporary painting, and sculptures.

Part Two

What happens when the private interacts with the public, and when personal decisions become a public matter?

Frisch Collection

The Berlin based couple, Harald and Kornelia Frisch, have been collecting idiosyncratic painterly and sculptural positions from different artistic generations free from market-based aesthetics since the 1960s.

Haus N – Part One

What happens when the private communicates with the public and when personal decisions become a public matter?

Le Souffleur

Wilhelm Schürmann presents his collection with works from the Ludwig Collection in “Le Souffleur.”

Slavs and Tatars: Friendship of Nations

An exhibition from the Berlin-based collector Christian Kaspar Schwarm, featuring work from the art collective, Slavs and Tatars.


Female Artists from the Olbricht Collection at me Collectors Room, Berlin.

Barbara Klemm: Photographs

A new exhibition from the Berlin collector Werner Driller.

Karsten Schmitz

Art collector, art philanthropist, social entrepreneur and the developer of one of Germany’s largest contemporary art spaces, the internationally renowned Leipziger Baumwollspinnerei, Karsten Schmitz shares his vision of how artistic, architectural, as well as the social metamorphosis of art spaces can transform the lives of artists, the public, even entire cities.

I Have Nothing Against Women But…

A look inside the exhibition “I Have Nothing Against Women but Can’t You Ring at Another Person’s Door”

Collection Regard

En Passant

To the patrons of tomorrow

Laurie Rojas on the future of art patronage and how to nurture enthusiasm for good art, worldly sensibility, curiosity, and connoisseurship.

The Rediscovery of Wonder

»Good art is rarely simple, but it is hardly ever incomprehensible, « says Christian Kaspar Schwarm, IC founder and avid collector who has never lost his excitement for complexity.

Mario von Kelterborn – Weserburg

As part of the "Young Collections" series at the Weserburg, Mario von Kelterborn presented works from Collection von Kelterborn in the exhibition "Young Collections 02".

Matthias Arndt

„In the beginning and in the end, you have to love your artworks for their inherent value, the beauty but also the artistic vision they represent“


A unique cultural space of international significance

A Change of Scenery

Artists' wallpapers from the Sammlung Goetz