Independent Collectors

Kai Bender

Collectors who have a special bond with Berlin.

Photo of Kai Bender
Photo of Kai Bender

To celebrate another year of Gallery Weekend Berlin we speak to a selection of collectors who have a special bond with Berlin.

Focusing on the collecting scene of the city and the personal relationship between city and collector, we find out what makes this capital not just a special place for its artists and visitors, but for the collectors too.

IC Collector Kai Bender tells us how he became involved with the collecting scene in Berlin and what he thinks a new generation of collectors will bring to the city. To celebrate another year of Gallery Weekend Berlin we speak to a selection of collectors who have a special bond with Berlin.

IC
Tell us about your connection to Berlin. How did it all begin?

KAI BENDER
When my wife Anna and I met back in 2005, she was already living in Berlin. I just moved into her tiny 1.5 room apartment in Mitte, and we had a great time. Shortly after that, I realized how lively and inspirational the art scene in Berlin was. I became involved and started purchasing first works. After we got married we moved to a slightly bigger place in Prenzlauer Berg, with more space for children and art. We started giving our portfolio and our way of selecting work some structure. Connections to our favourite galleries became tighter, we began visiting art fairs regularly, and all of a sudden we started being called a “collector couple” by some. This felt strange at first as there has never been an institutional ambition related to the works we have been acquiring. In the meantime, we became friends with more people sharing our passion, our perspectives on artists, artistic concepts, aesthetics and our patterns of collecting. And one day I read this article saying “Collecting starts when you run out of wall space”. This was funny and convincing at the same time, so we learned to accept the “collector” label.

IC
What is the collecting scene like in Berlin?

KAI BENDER
Berlin is largely considered a place for producing art, less for collecting art. You read a lot about how you find fewer decades-old, prominent, highly institutionalized collections than in other areas of Germany like in Cologne, Hamburg or Munich. This may be true, but I think the vibrancy of a local collector scene does not just come from the established high-end collections. It much more depends on the overall number of people being actively involved with it. If you have 10 big collectors in your local community, that’s great, but if you have an additional 500 beginning and mid-tier collectors, you end up with a much more lively and diverse crowd. And this is exactly what you find in Berlin.

GEROLD MILLER, Total Object 200, 2009. Courtesy the artist
GEROLD MILLER, Total Object 200, 2009. Courtesy the artist
MARTIN EDER, Festung, 2012. Courtesy the artist
MARTIN EDER, Festung, 2012. Courtesy the artist

Berlin is largely considered a place for producing art, less for collecting art.

KAI BENDER

IC
What impact has collecting contemporary art, in particular Painting, had on your life?

KAI BENDER
Contemporary art has added a new perspective to my life, which, from a professional standpoint, has a pretty formal and quantitative spin. Artistic concepts can undermine the patterns of what one could call an “adult life”, like being able to verbalize all opinions and ambitions, trying to meet somebody else’s expectations, focusing on your job at all times, etc. By the way, this doesn’t imply that one should collect driven only by emotional reasons, actually the opposite is true: the more structure you apply to your collection, the better the effect on yourself and others. Painting in particular is important, because the medium stands the test of time; you can say “it ages well”. That said, my definition of “painting” is not limited to oil on canvas, many young artists for example apply principles of painting in their digital work without ever touching a brush.

IC
Do you normally work directly with artists or do you go through Berlin galleries?

KAI BENDER
I normally buy through galleries like Eigen+Art, Sprüth Magers, Mehdi Chouakri and others. I know there is a lot of dispute around how digital platforms are disrupting the art business, how artists will sell via Instagram, and if traditional galleries are going to be there in 20 years from now. Of course, nobody can tell for sure. But my perception is that galleries today do not just provide the art works per se, but they also provide a social and personal context that many collectors appreciate a lot, including myself. Galleries will need to adapt the way they work with their artists and collectors to the requirements of the digital age, but I am optimistic that they will still be around for a while.

THOMAS SCHEIBITZ, Ohne Titel (No. 678), 2012
THOMAS SCHEIBITZ, Ohne Titel (No. 678), 2012
TIM EITEL, Home, 2015
TIM EITEL, Home, 2015
DANIEL RICHTER, Begegnung im Hochland, 2011
DANIEL RICHTER, Begegnung im Hochland, 2011

IC
How have you seen the Berlin art scene change and where do you think it’s headed?

KAI BENDER
It is constantly changing, in many aspects. Some major galleries have moved or left over the last years, others have just opened. I think it is good for the local scene, because it rejuvenates. Secondly, there is the trend towards the new media and digitally inspired aesthetics, sometimes called “post-internet art”. The big galleries try to evolve their portfolio in this direction while keeping their core portfolio alive and well. I look forward to seeing how this is going to work out. Thirdly, I expect the arrival of a new generation of collectors, enabled and inspired by the local start-up scene. The scene will continue to change, very much like the whole city has.

IC
Will you be attending Gallery Weekend Berlin this year? And if yes, do you have any tips for collectors as to where they should go?

KAI BENDER
Yes, I will definitely attend. I look very much forward to new works by Philippe Decrauzat at Mehdi Chouakri. Petra Cortright’s solo exhibition at Societé is also going to be very interesting, as well as Mike Bouchet’s exhibition at Peres Projects. Visitors should also go and see the group show at König Galerie as well as Gert & Uwe Tobias’ work at Contemporary Fine Arts. Personally, I will start the weekend with the openings of Carsten Nicolai at Eigen + Art, and Thea Djordjaze at Sprüth Magers.

MARTIN EDER, Begegnung, 2010
MARTIN EDER, Begegnung, 2010

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

KUNSTSAELE Berlin

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.

AT HOME WITH IC x sammlung FIEDE

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?

Dreamaholic

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.

Haus N Collection & ROCCA Stiftung

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

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.

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.

Safn

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.

Queensize

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“

MUSEUM INSEL HOMBROICH

A unique cultural space of international significance

A Change of Scenery

Artists' wallpapers from the Sammlung Goetz