BMW Art Guide by Independent Collectors

Thomas Olbricht

ME Collectors Room Berlin/Stiftung Olbricht – Berlin, Germany

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

I started collecting when I was five years old, back then I collected toy cars, stamps, and later butterflies. As a student my interest in collecting also included Art Nouveau vases. My great-uncle Karl Ströher had an extensive collection of art and my interest was definitely influenced by my early contact with pieces of his collection. I started collecting works of local artists, then post-'45 German art, and for the last twenty years also international art. In the last ten years I have started to collect more thematically, mostly figurative paintings and objects. But there are also abstract paintings in my collection. In 1986 I bought my first piece at an auction, a painting by the German artist E.W. Nay, an abstract work.

Why do you collect?

Out of passion. My already mentioned great-uncle Karl Ströher probably awakened the interest in collecting art. He among others brought the American Pop Art to Europe and supported the work of Joseph Beuys. My key experience was the opening of "Beuys-Block" in the Darmstadt State Museum. I went through the exhibition, without understanding anything. Not until 15 years later I realized the feat of the collector, who brought this extent of Beuys in a museum for the first time. Today, the confrontation with the incomprehensible forms an important drive for my collection.

View of the "Wunderkammer"
View of the "Wunderkammer"
Exhibition view: Wonderful – Humboldt, Krokodil & Polke
Exhibition view: Wonderful – Humboldt, Krokodil & Polke

Does your collection follow a concept or a specific theme?

Themes like love, life and death have been a topic for many artists throughout the last 500 years and I have an interest in those as well. You will find pieces of contemporary art in my collection that deal with those themes. Additionally to contemporary art, I started collecting "Wunderkammer" objects about ten years ago – before that I was not particularly interested in arts and crafts or old masters but then I figured out that almost every artist at some point depicts a skull – so why is it that death, couples or erotic things often play a role in figurative paintings? It is simply because those are subjects of vital significance.

Who are the artists you are currently following?

To give you some names: Jonas Burgert, Sterling Ruby, Robert Longo, Alicja Kwade, Kris Martin.

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

Only with a very few… I am mostly just interested in the art. But some have become close friends over the years.

Why did you decide to make your collection publicly accessible?

With ME Collectors Room Berlin I wanted to create a space not only for my own private collection, but also for other international private collectors with whom we have collaborations and exchange exhibitions. Our upcoming exhibition in May 2014 is one of those collaborations, this time with the Italian collector Patrizia Sandretto Re Rebaudengo. She will show parts of her collection at ME Collectors Room, after I was a guest at her Fondazione in Turin with the Gerhard Richter prints in 2013. My wife and I have a huge interest in introducing children and young people to art. Every day – before the official opening hours – there are workshops for schools and kindergarten–groups taking place around the exhibitions. The main goal of our Foundation is: to create a place that is open, warm, lively and welcoming to a broad public at all ages.

Which publicly accessible private collection would you recommend visiting?

All of them! Every single one is different and worth a visit!

All images via: ME Collectors Room Berlin/Stiftung Olbricht

More Information on ME Collectors Room

Collectors (58)

Rik Reinking

WAI - Woods Art Institute, Wentorf bei Hamburg, Germany

Christen Sveaas

Kistefos Museet, Jevnaker, Norway

Maurizio Morra Greco

Fondazione Morra Greco, Naples, Italy

Noemi Givon

Givon Art Forum – Tel Aviv, Israel

Qiao Zhibing

TANK Shanghai and Qiao Space - Shanghai, China

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

Michael Buxton

Buxton Contemporary - Melbourne, Australia

Anastasios A. Gkekas

The Office Collection - Nicosia, Cyprus

Christine and Andrew Hall

Hall Art Foundation - Reading, USA & Derneburg, Germany

João Carlos de Figueiredo Ferraz

Instituto Figueiredo Ferraz (IFF) - São Paulo, Brazil

Anita Zabludowicz

Zabludowicz Collection – London, United Kingdom

Gordon Elliott

The Elliott Eyes Collection - Sydney, Australia

Seth Stolbun

The Stolbun Collection – Houston, USA

Christian & Karen Boros

Sammlung Boros – Berlin, Germany

Maria Didrichsen

Didrichsen Art Museum – Helsinki, Finland

Timo Miettinen

Salon Dahlmann – Berlin, Germany

Marli Hoppe-Ritter

Sammlung Marli Hoppe-Ritter – Waldenbuch, Germany

Désiré Feuerle

The Feuerle Collection – Berlin, Germany

The Vague Space

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

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

Julia Stoschek

Julia Stoschek Collection – Dusseldorf, Germany

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

Mera & Donald Rubell

Rubell Family Collection – Miami, USA

Pétur Arason

Safn – Berlin, Germany / Reykjavík, Iceland

Steffen Hildebrand

G2 Kunsthalle – Leipzig, Germany

Rafaela Seppälä

RKF Collection – Helsinki, Finland

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

Bärbel Grässlin and Karola Kraus

Sammlung Grässlin - St. Georgen, Germany

Joëlle and Eric Romba

Rocca Stiftung – Berlin, Germany

Myriam and Amaury de Solages

Maison Particulière – Brussels, Belgium

Friedrich Gräfling

Sammlung Fiede - Aschaffenburg, Germany

Benjamin Genocchio

Fair Director at The Armory Show