BMW Art Guide by Independent Collectors

Bärbel Grässlin and Karola Kraus

Sammlung Grässlin - St. Georgen, Germany

Installation view: Martin Kippenberger in Kunstraum Grässlin, 2008
Installation view: Martin Kippenberger in Kunstraum Grässlin, 2008

Why do you collect?

Because our parents, Dieter and Anna Grässlin, were collectors we often came into contact with artists of their generation, people who regularly frequented our house. Our father knew how to pass on his enthusiasm for contemporary art to us children. After his early death we decided, along with my mother and our siblings Thomas and Sabine, to round out our father’s collection of Art Informel by acquiring works by Wols and Jean Fautrier. What followed was a phase of substantive reorientation because it was also important to us to engage in a process of direct exchange with the artists of our generation. We once again turned our attention to the art of the immediate present; this reflected not only a belief in the power of such art but also, simultaneously, the need to come to grips with the new.

Clegg & Guttmann, The Art Collectors, 2008
Clegg & Guttmann, The Art Collectors, 2008

What was the first piece of artwork you purchased, and when was this?

Significantly, one of the first works, and it was acquired during the collection’s substantive reorientation phase at the beginning of the 1980s, is the painting "Wattenläufer" by Albert Oehlen. It shows a dinosaur that has risen up from the brownish gray primal mud of the flats (or rather the muddy paint) and is scurrying in fright across the picture. In fact, this primordial animal has become a primal image in our own very personal collectors’ collective.

Does your collection follow a concept or a specific theme?

From the very beginning, the concept for our collection was distinguished by the fact that we focused on a number of artist personalities, putting together key works from as many phases of their careers as possible. We have never shied away from purchasing the kind of space-encroaching installations that would be more at home in a museum context than in a private collection.

Albert Oehlen, Wattenläufer, 1981
Albert Oehlen, Wattenläufer, 1981
Sammlung Grässlin
Sammlung Grässlin

Who are the artists you are currently following?

Artists from the 1980s generation – Werner Büttner, Günther Förg, Georg Herold, Isa Genzken, Mike Kelley, Hubert Kiecol, Martin Kippenberger, Meuser, Reinhard Mucha, Albert Oehlen, Markus Oehlen and Franz West. Since the beginning of the 1990s, the collection has also included young international positions such as Kai Althoff, Michael Beutler, Cosima von Bonin, Tom Burr, Clegg & Guttmann, Mark Dion, Michael Krebber, Christian Philipp Müller, Tobias Rehberger, Jan Timme and Heimo Zobernig who address conceptual questions and the idea of site-specific art.

Do you have a personal relationship with the artist you collect?

We enjoy a friendly relationship with all the artists.

Why did you decide to make your collection publicly accessible?

In 2004 we set up the Grässlin Foundation which handles our exhibition work, because we considered it important to be able to show our collection to the general public. The concept for the presentation of our collection involves networking with the local municipality: built in 2006, Kunstraum Grässlin is complemented by a project in existence since as long ago as 1995, Räume für Kunst, which relies on empty shop premises, former retail outlets and the plenary chambers of the city hall, the private houses of members of the family and the municipal park as exhibition venues. In this way, visiting our collection is on a par with a stroll through the city. Works from the collection’s inventory are presented in annual rotation, both as solo shows in the various premises and as themed group shows. In May 2014 we are opening a group exhibition entitled "Klotz am Bein", featuring sculptures and installations from our collection.

Which publicly accessible private collection would you recommend visiting?

Sammlung Boros in Berlin, Germany, Hallen für Kunst in Schaffhausen, Switzerland and Anton and Annick Herbert Foundation in Ghent in Belgium.

All images courtesy of Sammlung Grässlin

More Information on Sammlung Grässlin

Collectors (77)

Narda van 't Veer

The Narda van 't Veer Collection – Monnickendam, Netherlands

Rashid Al Khalifa


Olivier Chow

The Olivier Chow Collection – Lausanne, Switzerland

Valeria Napoleone

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Matteo Novarese

SOF:ART – Bologna, Italy

Martin Steppacher

Gallery Durchgang – Basel, Switzerland

Carmelo Graci

Graci Collection – Mantova, Italy

Dr. William Lim

Living Collection – Hong Kong


Nicola Erni Collection – Steinhausen, Switzerland

Lukas Jakob

Jakob Collection – Gundelfingen, Germany

Claus Busch Risvig

Bech Risvig Collection – Silkeborg, Denmark

Joseph Awuah-Darko

The Terra Collection Of African Contemporary Art – Accra, Ghana | London, UK


Ingrid and Thomas Jochheim Collection – Berlin, Germany

Michał Borowik

Michał Borowik Collection – Warsaw, Poland

Bernardo Paz

Instituto Inhotim – Centro de Arte Contemporânea e Jardim Botânico – Brumadinho, Brazil

Tony Salamé

Aïshti Foundation – Beirut, Lebanon

Nadia & Rajeeb Samdani

Samdani Art Foundation (SAF), Dhaka, Bangladesh

Lord David Cholmondeley

Houghton Hall – King's Lynn, Great Britain

Galila Barzilaï-Hollander

Galila's P.O.C., Brussels, Belgium

Martin Margulies

The Margulies Collection at the Warehouse – Miami, United States of America

Christine and Andrew Hall

Hall Art Foundation - Reading, USA & Derneburg, Germany

Qiao Zhibing

TANK Shanghai and Qiao Space - Shanghai, China

Christen Sveaas

Kistefos Museet, Jevnaker, Norway

Noemi Givon

Givon Art Forum – Tel Aviv, Israel

Michael Buxton

Buxton Contemporary - Melbourne, Australia

Seth Stolbun

The Stolbun Collection – Houston, USA

Jochen Zeitz

Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (Zeitz MOCAA) - Cape Town, Africa

Dominique & Sylvain Levy

DSLCollection – Paris, France

Andrea von Goetz

Sammlung Blankenburg – Hamburg, Germany

Gordon Elliott

The Elliott Eyes Collection - Sydney, Australia

The Vague Space

Christian Kaspar Schwarm on the first solo presentation of his collection at the Weserburg Bremen

Anita Zabludowicz

Zabludowicz Collection – London, United Kingdom

Anastasios A. Gkekas

The Office Collection - Nicosia, Cyprus

Rik Reinking

WAI - Woods Art Institute, Wentorf bei Hamburg, Germany

Maria Didrichsen

Didrichsen Art Museum – Helsinki, Finland

João Carlos de Figueiredo Ferraz

Instituto Figueiredo Ferraz (IFF) - São Paulo, Brazil

Julia Stoschek

Julia Stoschek Collection – Dusseldorf, Germany

Maurizio Morra Greco

Fondazione Morra Greco, Naples, Italy

Christian & Karen Boros

Sammlung Boros – Berlin, Germany

Timo Miettinen

Salon Dahlmann – Berlin, Germany

Marli Hoppe-Ritter

Sammlung Marli Hoppe-Ritter – Waldenbuch, Germany

Désiré Feuerle

The Feuerle Collection – Berlin, Germany

Gudrun & Bernd Wurlitzer

Wurlitzer Pied A Terre Collection – Berlin, Germany

Corbett Lyon

Lyon Housemuseum – Melbourne, Australia

Geert Verbeke-Lens

Verbeke Foundation – Kemzeke, Belgium

László Vass

Vass Collection – Veszprém, Hungary

Daisuke Miyatsu

Dream House – Ichikawa, Japan

Samara Walbohm & Joe Shlesinger

Scrap Metal Gallery – Toronto, Canada

Charles Riva

Charles Riva Collection – Brussels, Belgium

Venke & Rolf Hoff

KaviarFactory – Lofoten, Norway

Alain Servais

Servais Family Collection – Brussels, Belgium

Ivo Wessel

Sammlung Ivo Wessel - Berlin, Germany

Ramin Salsali

Salsali Private Museum – Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Vittorio Gaddi

Collezione Nunzia e Vittorio Gaddi – Lucca, Italy

Miguel Leal Rios

Fundação Leal Rios – Lisbon, Portugal

Gertraud and Dieter Bogner

Kunstraum Buchberg – Gars am Kamp, Austria

Bob Rennie

Rennie Collection at Wing Sang – Vancouver, Canada

Heiner Wemhöner

Sammlung Wemhöner – Herford, Germany

Lin Han

M WOODS – Beijing, China

Kenny Goss

The Goss-Michael Foundation – Dallas, USA

Karsten Schmitz

Arbeitswohnung Federkiel – Leipzig, Germany

Devon Dikeou

The Dikeou Collection - Denver, USA

Thomas Olbricht

ME Collectors Room Berlin/Stiftung Olbricht – Berlin, Germany

Mera & Donald Rubell

Rubell Family Collection – Miami, USA

Pétur Arason

Safn – Berlin, Germany / Reykjavík, Iceland

Steffen Hildebrand

G2 Kunsthalle – Leipzig, Germany

Frédéric de Goldschmidt

Frédéric de Goldschmidt – Brussels, Belgium

Daniel Teo

The Private Museum – Singapore, Singapore

Claudio Cosma

Sensus – Luoghi per l’arte Contemporanea – Florence, Italy

Michał Borowik

Michał Borowik Collection – Warsaw, Poland

Herbert Gerisch

Herbert-Gerisch-Stiftung - Neumünster, Germany

José Berardo

Museu Coleção Berardo – Lisbon, Portugal

Joëlle and Eric Romba

Rocca Stiftung – Berlin, Germany

Myriam and Amaury de Solages

Maison Particulière – Brussels, Belgium

Friedrich Gräfling

Sammlung Fiede - Aschaffenburg, Germany