BMW Art Guide by Independent Collectors

Gudrun & Bernd Wurlitzer

Wurlitzer Pied A Terre Collection – Berlin, Germany

Stephanie Stein, "Schon Bald", 2015. Photo: Wurlitzer Collection
Stephanie Stein, "Schon Bald", 2015. Photo: Wurlitzer Collection

How important is having the title of being a “collector” to you?

BW: That’s not important at all for me, you never feel of yourself like a collector. When our friends and visitors told us that “you have a fantastic collection”, then we were collectors.
GW: I’m an architect who collects. “Collector” sound a bit overdone.

Does your collection follow a specific theme or particular artists?

BW: Not in the beginning, but in the last ten years we have been following artists like Wolfgang Tillmans, Isa Genzken, Alicja Kwade, Gregor Hildebrandt and some others. But there is no theme, just always room for new artists. When curating an exhibition like “Mind the Gap” in our new project room the works get a theme and a red line combining them.

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

BW: With some of them we have very good friendships that began in the 1980s in Cologne, Düsseldorf and New York. In the last decade we’ve also made new friends here in Berlin and in London.
GW: Most of the friendships existed before we were collecting at all. We are working within the creative scene and so it is only natural that you have artist friends.

Michail Pirgelis, "Handlines II", 2017; Okka-Esther Hungerbühler, "Springbrunnen 4". Photo: Wurlitzer Collection
Michail Pirgelis, "Handlines II", 2017; Okka-Esther Hungerbühler, "Springbrunnen 4". Photo: Wurlitzer Collection

Is there an artwork that you love but can’t live with due to size, medium, or value?

BW: My wife is an architect and very inventive when it comes to spaces.
GW: It’s a luxury to live with valuable art around you, and an everyday joy! But as it is contemporary art, it’s never over the top.

In your opinion, what mistakes do young collectors make? And what mistakes did you make when first starting on your collecting journey?

BW: To expect that it’s easy to judge what is great art. It comes little by little and can take years. In our case, we were very lucky because our early artist friends were all top artists. We have somehow always lived within contemporary art history. All of these friends have become successful and our collection represents some of these artists.
GW: My husband was director of an art gallery in Duesseldorf and showing all the photo work by artists like Fischli & Weiss, Martin Kippenberger, Günther Förg, Laurie Simmons, Steven Meisel, Georg Herold, Lyn Davis, Walter Dahn. So in addition to the friendships with artists this was a good course about great art too. Our mistake when starting? Not having purchased enough. This was due to the fact that the artworks from our artist friends were already too expensive for us in those early times of our own careers.

What has the reaction been like from visitors of your collection since making it publicly accessible? Does this reaction impact you and what you collect?

GW: It depends if the visitors are art professionals or art lovers. With some we have interesting dialogues and there is always a great interest on how we find and choose the artworks. Some visitors wonder how we can live with so much art around us.
BW: The impact of what we collect comes from decades of learning and consists of countless mosaic pieces of our lives within the art world. We collect abstract and also narrative art; the later is often more accepted by visitors. But never would this lead us to gravitate more in that direction.

(l–r) Anna Vogel, "Two Pigment Prints, 2014"; Jürgen Drescher, "Sprechblase", 2011
(l–r) Anna Vogel, "Two Pigment Prints, 2014"; Jürgen Drescher, "Sprechblase", 2011

Where do you find out about artists that you are interested in purchasing?

BW: As we know so many artists and gallerists, we get good hints. Both my wife and I like checking the Internet for getting more information on artists. And of course studio visits are a big part of learning more.
GW: With our Internet project Artitious we are sharing some of our privileges by providing information about artists, such as views of the studios and artworks.

Which publicly accessible private collection would you recommend visiting?

BW: The Feuerle Collection is extraordinary, Haubrokprojects is very special and the Ivo Wessel Collection is intellectual and literary
GW: The me Collectors Room is also always a journey into something exciting.

All images courtesy the Wurlitzer Pied A Terre Collection, Berlin

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