Independent Collectors

Gill Bronner

Interview with the collector behind the Philara Collection.

Gil Bronner (2016) Photo: Albrecht Fuchs, Köln - Sammlung Philara
Gil Bronner (2016) Photo: Albrecht Fuchs, Köln - Sammlung Philara

After moving to its new location in the summer of 2016, Düsseldorf’s Philara Collection is the leading private collection of the city.

Last year you moved to a new location – a former glass factory – in Düsseldorf Flingern. Could you tell us some more about the district and the new space?

Flingern is a working-class district close to the center of Duesseldorf, which has recently been developed significantly due to the local boom in real estate. It has gone through a gentrification process similar to comparable districts in other cities, like the Meatpacking District in New York.

The nucleus of the rise in the number of art galleries, was the Konrad Fischer Gallery, which has been in Flingern close to our location for over twenty years. My move, or rather since I began planning to move, coincided with the move of many contemporary art galleries to the same area, more or less uncoordinated. For me the move to the new space was originally motivated by the rather banal fact, that it is a much shorter trip from my home, than the original space in Reisholz. Also the building we converted has a raw industrial charm. Of course the new space is much larger and demands much more work and time but this is very fulfilling.

What is the usual procedure you follow when organizing exhibitions of your collection?

Generally, when we invite artists that are often already part of the collection, or will be in future, we ask them to make suggestions according to the plans and the model of the space. Or we make suggestions based on a body of work that we liked. Then generally they then fine-tune this during the hanging process with Katharina Klang, my curator and Ruben Smulczynski, her assistant.

Of course these things are dependent on where the artist comes from and how much time there is. Generally speaking, the process takes about a week but sometimes with local artists it can take up to three weeks, and of course it is also dependent on the complexity of the installation. We have not had any curated shows at the collection yet, other than the permanent collection that was mainly organized by Katharina and Ruben. Sometimes I’m also allowed to say something!

In your collection emerging local talents meet established Düsseldorf artists as well as international artists. Is it necessary to have a special way of thinking, of feeling, to create a collection like this?

I think it is necessary to have a certain passion (if not an obsession, which could probably be clinically analyzed) to create a collection of certain proportions. I never aimed to specifically create a collection where these established and younger positions are juxtaposed. This is just a way they are being shown, which we find very interesting. All works that I acquired I have tried to acquire due to a certain quality that I saw in them. We believe it is important to be able to give younger artists a forum where their works can be seen on a, more or less, longer-term basis.

I am not inclined to measure the success of my collection due to a short-term valuation, possibly created by hypes of certain younger artists. Only time will tell how 'successful' I was.


HANS-PETER FELDMANN, Sea Paintings (installation view at Philara Collection), 2017. Courtesy the artist. © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2018. Photo: Achim Kukulies
HANS-PETER FELDMANN, Sea Paintings (installation view at Philara Collection), 2017. Courtesy the artist. © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2018. Photo: Achim Kukulies
TOMÁS SARACENO, 80SW iridescent/Flying Garden/Air-Port-City, 2011. Courtesy the artist & Philara Collection, Düsseldorf. Photo: Achim Kukulies
TOMÁS SARACENO, 80SW iridescent/Flying Garden/Air-Port-City, 2011. Courtesy the artist & Philara Collection, Düsseldorf. Photo: Achim Kukulies

What do you think is the key to having a successful collection?

There is no key, as such, to creating a successful collection. I am not inclined to measure the success of my collection due to a short-term valuation, possibly created by hypes of certain younger artists. Only time will tell how “successful” I was. I saw the Shchukin Collection at the Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris last week. That was a successful collection created with an immense eye for quality, a hundred years ago. That would be something to aspire to.

Could you name the most powerful artwork you have seen or bought recently? An artwork that has truly moved you, touched you or shocked you?

It is incredibly difficult to single out any artwork I have bought recently. Many things touch me, but in an artistic way rather than sentimentally and perhaps, like most people, due to recent history and the new media, it has become increasingly difficult to shock me.

Do you think the art of today has the power to change something in society?

Generally I would say that the majority of very contemporary artists, at least in Germany, create apolitical works that are more focused on art itself, rather than general events. Perhaps political events of significance occur in too rapid a succession and are frequently too absurd to react to adequately. Art can only create awareness to certain facts, at best I don’t really believe it has a power to change anything. Often artists that describe faults in the system, like Ai Wei Wei, become popstars, thus loosing authenticity. Very few artists, in my view, succeed on commenting political events or historical events well. A few, that come to mind are Marcel Odenbach, Rirkrit Tiravanija or even David Shrigley.

I used to be inclined to say that my taste has become more conceptual with time, but I would now revise that statement, as I feel there is no good art, no matter in what medium without a concept.


SIMON FUJIWARA, Rebekkah, 2012. Courtesy the artist & Philara Collection, Düsseldorf. Photo: Achim Kukulies
SIMON FUJIWARA, Rebekkah, 2012. Courtesy the artist & Philara Collection, Düsseldorf. Photo: Achim Kukulies

Do you have the time to just sit back and look at a piece of artwork you have just bought?

It is not so much a question of time, rather than space, that robs one of the possibility to properly contemplate new acquisitions. Also unfortunately, ones look has become much too fleeting, this is probably a sign of the times.

Katharina actually took this aspect, as an idea for an event which we will, hopeful implement on a regular basis in future. We wanted to invite visitors to sit with us for an evening with food and wine, concentrating on only one specific work of art. Thus, hopefully giving it the depth of concentration it deserves.

Where do you see your collection in the future?

I of course hope that my collection, particularly pertaining to younger artists, will be of some significance in the future and my extremely subjective view is that I might be on the right tracks. But, as mentioned above, only time will tell.

How has your collecting habit/style changed over the years?

Like many collectors that spend a lot of time with art, I believe one develops a certain eye for quality but the level and intensity of collecting is also strongly influenced by budgetary restrictions or possibilities. On the whole, having a museal space opens the possibility to acquire installative works one would not acquire to show at home.

I used to be inclined to say that my taste has become more conceptual with time, but I would now revise that statement, as I feel there is no good art, no matter in what medium without a concept. Something absolutely beautiful does not have to be automatically stupid or banal, and something coarse and sparse does, not have to be automatically clever.

JONAH FREEMAN & JUSTIN LOWE, Artichoke Underground, 2013. Courtesy the artist & Philara Collection, Düsseldorf. Photo: Achim Kukulies
JONAH FREEMAN & JUSTIN LOWE, Artichoke Underground, 2013. Courtesy the artist & Philara Collection, Düsseldorf. Photo: Achim Kukulies
LOTHAR GÖTZ, Composition with Yellow, 2016. Courtesy the artist & Philara Collection, Düsseldorf. Photo: Achim Kukulies
LOTHAR GÖTZ, Composition with Yellow, 2016. Courtesy the artist & Philara Collection, Düsseldorf. Photo: Achim Kukulies
Glas Lennarz (Bar) with works by ANDREAS SCHMITTEN & NEVIN ALADAG, 2017. Photo: Stefan Müller
Glas Lennarz (Bar) with works by ANDREAS SCHMITTEN & NEVIN ALADAG, 2017. Photo: Stefan Müller
Philara Collection, Sieber Architects, 2017. Photo: Stefan Müller
Philara Collection, Sieber Architects, 2017. Photo: Stefan Müller

The Philara Collection is featured in the BMW ART GUIDE by INDEPENDENT COLLECTORS.

For more information visit the Philara Collection.

Germany (110)

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.

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.

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.

Color + Form

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".