BMW Art Guide by Independent Collectors

Present Pasts

The Feuerle Collection – Berlin, Germany

Installation view of The Feuerle Collection, Berlin. Large side table with everted ends, 17th Century; Adam Fuss, ’Smoke’. Photo: Nic Tenwiggenhorn – © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2017
Installation view of The Feuerle Collection, Berlin. Large side table with everted ends, 17th Century; Adam Fuss, ’Smoke’. Photo: Nic Tenwiggenhorn – © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2017

You could pass by the Feuerle collection without ever knowing it. The imposing concrete exterior of the building – an erstwhile Second World War communications bunker – is nestled in among the overgrown foliage along Hallesches Ufer in Berlin near the Spree’s meandering canal. Though it is an easy building to overlook, it is an unforgettable place to visit. Désiré Feuerle, the name behind the collection, is an aficionado of East Asian art, and his passion extends to the region’s history and cultural practices. The collection that bears his name speaks both of an intellectual passion, but also a deeper, more spiritual sensibility.

Installation view of The Feuerle Collection, Berlin. ’Head of Young Male Divinity’, 11th Century; ’Stone Scholar Table’; ’Standing Vishnu with inlaid eyes & third eye’, 11th Century; ’Baphuon inlayed eyes & third eye’, 11th Century. Photo: Nic Tenwiggenhorn – © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2017
Installation view of The Feuerle Collection, Berlin. ’Head of Young Male Divinity’, 11th Century; ’Stone Scholar Table’; ’Standing Vishnu with inlaid eyes & third eye’, 11th Century; ’Baphuon inlayed eyes & third eye’, 11th Century. Photo: Nic Tenwiggenhorn – © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2017

In his approach to display, Feuerle is fond of juxtapositions and the contrast between the harsh functionality of the bunker and the delicacy of the works it houses could scarcely be starker. To call the concrete of which the bunker is composed ‘distressed’ would be like referring to Kanye West as ‘self-confident’, yet the refined workmanship the ancient Khmer figurines on display in the expansive main space of the Feuerle radiate a potent serenity and sense of balance that can make one almost feel weightless. The interplay of presence and absence is a powerful aspect of the Feuerle's layout. There is a palpable sense of disorientation that sets in immediately upon entering the space as the door to the outside world closes and one is submerged in an encompassing darkness that resets the senses. When the first notes of a John Cage composition resonate through the space, the distance between the tones seems physical as well as temporal. The small, grey light at the end of the first chamber leads to the revelation of the main gallery space peopled with battered statuary and figures. To the right, a set of Qing Dynasty benches stretch out to the far end of the room. The benches and figures flank one of the greatest treasures in the Feuerle, a single seat believed to have been made in the 2nd Century BC. The seat is made for a single occupant and is engraved with symbolic images including a set of waves over which the sitter would be situated. It is believed that these waves denote a connection to deeper, universal forces that the person seated upon them may channel.

Installation view of The Feuerle Collection, Berlin. ’Side table with everted ends’, 17th Century; ’Lohan Bed’, 17th Century; Zeng Fanzhi, ’Untitled’, 2009; work by Nobuyoshi Araki. Photo: Nic Tenwiggenhorn – © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2017
Installation view of The Feuerle Collection, Berlin. ’Side table with everted ends’, 17th Century; ’Lohan Bed’, 17th Century; Zeng Fanzhi, ’Untitled’, 2009; work by Nobuyoshi Araki. Photo: Nic Tenwiggenhorn – © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2017

This sense of integration and interconnection is fitting in that Feuerle Collection itself is also something of an ecosystem. Just beside the main space, behind a layer of glass, is the “lake room” which houses a small body of water used to regulate temperature within the gallery and preserve the necessary balance of heat and humidity. Adjacent to the lake room is second unique space: an incense room complete with furniture designed by John Pawson, the British architect responsible for the renovation of the bunker itself. The furniture was created by applying the same techniques and formal relations traditional to those used in the production of the seats and tables found in historical Chinese incense ceremonies. Here, the capacity for an art space to be a site of meditation, stillness and sensory immersion truly reaches fruition. For all its concrete solidity and bleak antecedents, Feuerle and Pawson have succeeded in turning a site of isolation and paranoia into a place infused with humanity, lightness and sensuality.

William Kherbek is the writer of the novel Ecology of Secrets (2013, Arcadia Missa) and the forthcoming UltraLife (2016, Arcadia Missa). His art journalism has appeared in a number of publications in the UK, US, Germany, Switzerland and Romania.

All images © The Feuerle Collection, Berlin

More Information on The Feuerle Collection

Collections (107)

West Collection

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Frissiras Museum

3 500 contemporary figurative paintings

Arario Museum in Space

Wide-ranging collection of Korean and Western art by the country’s leading collector and gallerist

Fondazione Brodbeck

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Peyrassol—Parc de Sculptures

A sculpture park on a centuries-old vineyard in Provence

Alexander Tutsek-Stiftung

A location for contemporary glass and photography

Colección de Arte Amalia Lacroze de Fortabat

Argentina's wealthiest woman presents six centuries of art-treasure collecting

Rossini Art Site (RAS)

Large-scale sculpture in a landscape park

Castello di Ama per l’Arte Contemporanea

Site-specific installations for a dual passion: art and wine

Kasteel Wijlre Estate

Art from the 1960s to the present in a modern pavilion

Fundació Vila Casas

Three buildings, three points of focus: painting, sculpture and photography

Gibbs Farm

A sculpture park in XXL format with monumental art in the grandness of nature

Kloster Schoenthal

Nature-inspired sculptures in a pristine landscape

Pinchuk Art Centre

Blue-chip contemporary in the first private museum in the former USSR

Museo James Turrell — The Hess Art Collection, Colomé

Turrell’s largest Skyspace and additional light rooms in breathtaking surroundings


An extensive private collection of Swiss contemporary art of the last fifty years

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A Royal Collection Spanning 200 Years of Arab Art – Doha, Qatar

Sara Piccinini

Senior Coordinator, Collezione Maramotti - Reggio Emilia, Italy

Reflection and Speculation

Sammlung von Kelterborn – Frankfurt, Germany


DJ Cassy and Francesca Gavin meet with collectors Venke and Rolf A. Hoff in Henningsvær, Norway

Deichtorhallen Hamburg – Sammlung Falckenberg

Positions of social criticism in German and American contemporary art – Hamburg, Germany

The Walther Collection

Inside and Outside the Frame – Neu Ulm, Germany

Peter Ibsen Collection

Minimalist Works That Hone Your Sense for Detail – Copenhagen, Denmark

Initiating Dialogues

Sammlung Hoffmann – Berlin, Germany

The Mallin Collection & Buckhorn Sculpture Park

Andrea Denver and Francesca Gavin meet with collectors Sherry and Joel Mallin in Upstate New York

The Agah Uğur Collection

One of the Largest Video Art Collections in Istanbul, Turkey

KA Modern and Contemporary Art Space

900 Square Meters Dedicated to Lebanon’s Most Significant Artists – Beirut, Lebanon

Art About Beauty and Infirmity

Collezione De Iorio – Trento, Italy

Living Collection

Gary Yeh and Francesca Gavin meet with architect and collector William Lim in Hong Kong

Early Passions

Z Collection – Hong Kong, China

Infinite Interiors

Philara Collection – Dusseldorf, Germany

Papko Art Collection

Works of Turkish Modernism at the legendary Ralli Apartment in Istanbul

Risky Business

Astrup Fearnley Museet – Oslo, Norway

Something Special, Something Sacred

The Goss-Michael Foundation – Dallas, United States of America

JAHM – Justin Art House Museum

Digital and Abstract Art — Melbourne, Australia

A More Democratic Art

MACBA – Museum of Contemporary Art of Buenos Aires, Argentina

Embracing the Accidental

Trajković Collection – Belgrade, Serbia

Galila's P.O.C.

A Collection Made up of Thematic Collections – Brussels, Belgium

Establishing Roots and Creating Links

The Ovidiu Șandor Collection – Timișoara, Romania

Instituto Figueiredo Ferraz

Abstract painting and concept art in Brazil’s interior – São Paulo

Conversation Pieces

KUNSTSAELE Berlin – Berlin, Germany

Magazzino Italian Art

Contemporary Italian Art on the Hudson River – New York

Slow Learning

de la Cruz Collection – Miami, United States of America

Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa

A venue for contemporary African art – Cape Town

The Elliott Eyes Collection

Engaging With the Collectors – Sydney

Foundation Francès

A French roadtrip reaching the radical reflections of artist Kader Attia

The Sublime Hyacinth Collection

Czech Art Meets Czech Design – Prague, Czech Republic

Marciano Art Foundation

Contemporary art at the Masonic temple – Los Angeles

Time Stamps

Julia Stoschek Collection – Berlin, Germany

Generative Grammars

Servais Family Collection – Brussels, Belgium

Chasing the Future

dslcollection – Paris, France

Charged Atmospheres

Transformer Station – Cleveland, United States of America

Places in, and out of, Time

Adrastus Collection – Arévalo, Spain

Eloquent Silences

The Givon Art Forum – Tel Aviv, Israel

Counting to Ten

Ten Cubed – Melbourne, Australia

Dispersing Narratives

The Wedge Collection – Toronto, Canada

Dialogues in Nature

Chatsworth – Bakewell, Great Britain

Space for the Future

The Vanhaerents Art Collection – Brussels, Belgium

Colección Contemporánea

A Global Collection from a Seasoned Art Collector In Mexico City

Adrastus Collection

A Collection That Shows the Diversity of Art in the Age of Globalization – Arevalo, Spain

Masters and Romantics

Collection Lambert – Avignon, France

Fondazione Rolla

A Collection of Modern and Contemporary Photography in Ticino

Finnish Rhapsody

Didrichsen Art Museum – Helsinki, Finland

Cranford Collection

One of Europe’s Most Important Collections with Renowned Contemporaries in Regent’s Park – London

Broad Minded

Artist Tomasz Kobialka on The Broad – Los Angeles, USA

Jean-Paul Najar Foundation

European-American Post-Minimalist Art in a Bauhaus-inspired building – Dubai

Treasure Hunt

The Wanås Foundation/Wanås Konst – Knislinge, Sweden

AMC Collezione Coppola

A Curious Collector Acquiring Art to Broaden his Understanding of the World

A Home for Light and Color

MALBA – Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires

Newport Street Gallery

Damien Hirst’s ‘Murderme’ Collection finds a permanent home – London

Franks Suss Collection

A Duo Investing in Artists and Not Cashing In – Hong Kong, London and Sydney

Mallin Collection & Buckhorn Sculpture Park

A Magic Sculpture Garden in Westchester County – Pound Ridge, New York

Shine On

Wurlitzer – Berlin-Pied-à-Terre Collection – Berlin, Germany

Houghton Hall – King's Lynn

Lavish 18th Century interiors juxtaposed with contemporary outdoor sculpture

Venet Foundation

An Artist’s Take on Collecting in the South of France

G2 Kunsthalle

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Igal Ahouvi Art Collection – Tel Aviv, Israel


The best of Chinese contemporary art, available 24/7/365

Thoma Foundation

Two intimate art spaces in Chicago and Santa Fe encourage dialogue between work and viewer

Lyon Housemuseum

Located near Melbourne, Australia, collector Corbett Lyon designed the Housemuseum to share it with the public

Follow The Yellow Brick Road

Inhotim – Instituto de Arte Contemporânea e Jardim Botânico

Portraiture Confronting a Land’s Traumatic Past

The Walther Collection – Project Space New York – New York City

Conceptual Authenticity

Sammlung Barbara und Axel Haubrok - haubrok projects - Berlin, Germany

A Self-taught Collector

Vass Collection - Veszprém, Hungary

Roots in Rotterdam

Concordia Collection - Rotterdam, Netherlands

Louvre goes Lens – and Pinault follows

How France’s most established museum and collector are redeveloping forgotten places

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David Roberts Art Foundation – Great Britain, London

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David Walsh and his MONA

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SIP Shpilman Institute for Photography – Tel Aviv, Israel

Gifts for Philadelphia

Private collectors with a generous heart

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On the opening of the Jorge M. Pérez Museum

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François Pinault Foundation - Venice, Italy

Eric and Jean Cass Collection

A private collection goes public

Bernardo Paz’s Transformative Museum

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Dakis Joannou - Deste Foundation for Contemporary Art

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White Rabbit Collection

Chinese Contemporary Art – Australia, Sydney