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Berlin  |  Germany  | 

Désiré Feuerle

Berlin just got another publicly accessible private collection in an old bunker.

In April 2016 Désiré Feuerle opened his collection, the Feuerle Collection, in a former Second World War telecommunications bunker, showcasing an interesting mixture of ancient and contemporary works.

Here, the Asia-based collector tells us why he chose Berlin as a home for his collection and talks about how furniture becomes sculpture.

IC

Mr. Feuerle, you just opened your very own collection space in an old Berlin bunker. What made you decide to take that step?

DÉSIRÉ FEUERLE

I decided to open up my collection to the public outside of Asia in the hope to generate dialogues between different cultures and times; and most importantly, I hope that the visitors will be submerged in the museum’s unique atmosphere and enter a serene and sensual world that puts art into a new light.

IC

You live in Asia. Why did you choose Berlin as a location for your collection?

DÉSIRÉ FEUERLE

What attracted me to Berlin is that Berlin is a “rough” city, whereas my collection is “elegant” – with beautiful, sensitive pieces. This results in an interesting contrast. Also the contrast of the works to the building encourages the viewer to see the pieces differently. For me, all these pieces of furniture are sculptures and this is what I want the museum’s visitors to see, too.

Installation view of The Feuerle Collection. Photo: Nic Tenwiggenhorn / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn © The Feuerle Collection
Installation view of The Feuerle Collection. Photo: Nic Tenwiggenhorn / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn © The Feuerle Collection

Berlin is a 'rough' city, whereas my collection is 'elegant'. This results in an interesting contrast.

DÉSIRÉ FEUERLE
Installation view of The Feuerle Collection. Photo: Nic Tenwiggenhorn / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn © The Feuerle Collection
Installation view of The Feuerle Collection. Photo: Nic Tenwiggenhorn / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn © The Feuerle Collection
Installation view of The Feuerle Collection. Photo: Nic Tenwiggenhorn / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn © The Feuerle Collection
Installation view of The Feuerle Collection. Photo: Nic Tenwiggenhorn / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn © The Feuerle Collection
Vishnu, Baphuon, 11th Century. Photo: Nic Tenwiggenhorn / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn © The Feuerle Collection
Vishnu, Baphuon, 11th Century. Photo: Nic Tenwiggenhorn / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn © The Feuerle Collection
Head of Avalokiteshvara, Bayon, 12th-13th Century.
Courtesy of The Feuerle Collection
Head of Avalokiteshvara, Bayon, 12th-13th Century. Courtesy of The Feuerle Collection
IC

Do you think it’s a collector’s responsibility to make their collection available to the public?

DÉSIRÉ FEUERLE

I think this is a very personal decision, that each collector has to take according to her or his individual situation and beliefs. Opening a public space, on the other hand, comes with a responsibility not everybody is able or willing to take on.

IC

In your collection you juxtapose ancient art with contemporary and modern pieces. Do you collect both with equal passion or do you put a focus on one more?

DÉSIRÉ FEUERLE

It has always been my passion to connect or to juxtapose things. My fascination with Asia started when I was very young and I feel Asia as a continent has a different sensibility than Europe. I often come across pieces that evoke the same feeling in me, even when they are centuries and continents apart.

An Eight Posts Canopy Bed, China, 17th century
An Eight Posts Canopy Bed, China, 17th century

For me, all these pieces of furniture are sculptures.

DÉSIRÉ FEUERLE
NOBUYOSHI ARAKI, LOVE BY LEICA, 2006/2015; A carved chair with lingzhi motifs, early Qing dynasty 17th century
NOBUYOSHI ARAKI, LOVE BY LEICA, 2006/2015; A carved chair with lingzhi motifs, early Qing dynasty 17th century
NOBUYOSHI ARAKI, Erotos, 1993/2015; Red lacquered lute table, Ming dynasty, 16th Century
NOBUYOSHI ARAKI, Erotos, 1993/2015; Red lacquered lute table, Ming dynasty, 16th Century
A Carved Chair with Lingzhi Motifs, China, Early Qing dynasty, 17th century
A Carved Chair with Lingzhi Motifs, China, Early Qing dynasty, 17th century
IC

Where do you think lies the strength in combining art from various different backgrounds in one collection?

DÉSIRÉ FEUERLE

The pieces I’ve combined were arranged through knowledge, feeling and intuition. This is their common background. Together, I hope, they offer a cross-cultural and unique experience of art.

IC

What role does collecting play in your day-to-day life?

DÉSIRÉ FEUERLE

Art plays a very important role in my everyday life. I always try to keep my eyes open to the beauty of things.

IC

What has changed over the years in regards to your collecting habits? And what is important for you when buying an artwork?

DÉSIRÉ FEUERLE

Over the years, of course, I gained knowledge and experience and learned to trust my intuition more. It is always important that the art work evokes a certain feeling and attraction in me. Besides that, I seek advice of experts I trust.

ADAM FUSS, Smoke; Large side table with everted ends , early Qing dynasty, 17th Century. Photo: Nic Tenwiggenhorn / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn © The Feuerle Collection
ADAM FUSS, Smoke; Large side table with everted ends , early Qing dynasty, 17th Century. Photo: Nic Tenwiggenhorn / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn © The Feuerle Collection
ADAM FUSS, Smoke; A Pair of Imperial Bla ck Lacquered Bookcases with Gold Tracery Dragon Motifs, China, 16th-17th Century. Photo: Nic Tenwiggenhorn / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn © The Feuerle Collection
ADAM FUSS, Smoke; A Pair of Imperial Bla ck Lacquered Bookcases with Gold Tracery Dragon Motifs, China, 16th-17th Century. Photo: Nic Tenwiggenhorn / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn © The Feuerle Collection
IC

Based on your experience, can you give an explanation as to why people begin to collect art?

DÉSIRÉ FEUERLE

There are very different reasons why people start collecting art, but I believe that in most cases it begins with a deep passion for art and the enjoyment of being surrounded by art every day.

IC

You have met many collectors. How, in your opinion, do American, European, Russian or Chinese art collectors differ from each other?

DÉSIRÉ FEUERLE

The tradition and the way art is collected, varies from country to country and from one collector to the other. Some, of course, regard art as a mere investment, following trends and figures, others have a very personal, more sensitive approach. You will find examples of each kind in every country.

IC

Do you have a favorite art collection?

DÉSIRÉ FEUERLE

Among the collections that are open to the public, some of my favourites are those held by the Dia Foundation, the Fondation Beyerle and the Menil Collection. Then, of course, there are many wonderful private collections.

The pieces I’ve combined were arranged through knowledge, feeling and intuition… Together, I hope, they offer a cross-cultural and unique experience of art.

DÉSIRÉ FEUERLE
Harihara , Pre-Angkor 7th- 8th Century. Photo: Nic Tenwiggenhorn / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn © The Feuerle Collection
Harihara , Pre-Angkor 7th- 8th Century. Photo: Nic Tenwiggenhorn / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn © The Feuerle Collection
The Feuerle Collection, Site in November 2015. © Gilbert McCarragher
The Feuerle Collection, Site in November 2015. © Gilbert McCarragher
ZENG FANZHI, Untitled, 2009. © and Courtesy the artist and The Feuerle Collection
ZENG FANZHI, Untitled, 2009. © and Courtesy the artist and The Feuerle Collection
CRISTINA IGLESIAS, Pozo V (Version 3) (Detail), 2013. Photo: Attilio Maranzano
CRISTINA IGLESIAS, Pozo V (Version 3) (Detail), 2013. Photo: Attilio Maranzano

The Feuerle Collection is included in the fourth edition of the Art Guide.