Interview with Dirk Krämer and Klaus Maas
Museum DKM – Duisburg, Germany
What was the first piece of artwork you purchased, and when was this?
During a holiday in Tessin at the age of 22 in 1968, I, Klaus Maas (KM) made the acquaintance of a young printer and manufacturer of deckle-edged paper, from whom I acquired my first graphic by Ben Nicholson and a collage by Gianfredo Camesi.
Why do you collect?
I was already deeply interested in the arts as a student. I started to compile an illustrated art history, made up from newspaper and magazine cutouts. I used to paint, to compile collages. In the Swiss printer's surroundings, I was immersed in a foreign but exciting world of art and artists. In addition to studying economics, and later starting to work in my parents' building company, I regarded this parallel world as a delightful amendment, which has had a hold on me to this day. The first exhibitions took place in private apartments and gardens, and then over the course of seven years they happened in a small gallery – I was my own best customer. I started supporting other artists' activities and, together with my husband Dirk Krämer (DK), for 11 years we opened up the window gallery (Gallery DKM in Duisburg), which held temporary installations by local and international artists. In addition to contemporary (modern) art, ancient art became an equally important focus of our shared collectors' passion.
Does your collection follow a concept or a specific theme?
From the start, the growing collection focused on the few artists we followed over many years, as well as on selected subject matters we take special interest in. When we decided to build our own museum to display decisive parts of our collection, it was a great challenge for us to embed the mostly self-contained artists' and subjects' rooms, alternating between modern and ancient art, in a harmonic course. We were certain however there was a common threat to the many collectors' items – even though most of them were out of sight in our home environment. We then realized that there are aesthetic principles, a kind of timeless beauty, running through the collection. Referring to these principles we have entitled the presentation of our permanent collection "Lines of Quiet Beauty". At the end of an accelerated walk, visitors should be leaving the museum with a smile on their faces, without being exhausted by the wealth of the 51 rooms of varying "temperatures".
Who are the artists you are currently following?
At the moment we pay great attention to the work of Johannes Brus, Gereon Krebber, Nikolaus Koliusis, Tom Fecht and Michael Bieberstein among others. Our main current topics of interest include ‘Subjective Photography’,’Khmer Ceramics’ and ‘Gay Aesthetics’.
Do you have a personal relationship with the artists you collect?
Since we have been following several artists over a period of many years, we mostly have developed a close personal relationship to them.
Why did you decide to make your collection publicly accessible?
As collectors it was obvious to us to be placing our collection in the environment we live in, where we work and make a living. It is important to us to give something long-lasting back to the region we are embedded in. To us, Duisburg with its three art museums (Lehmbruck Museum, Museum Küppersmühle and Museum DKM), remains one of the most exciting cities and therefore deserves our undivided attention.
Which publicly accessible private collection would you recommend visiting?
The Insel Hombroich Museum in Neuss near Cologne, the Morat Institute for Arts and Art History in Freiburg, and the Sammlung Goetz in Munich.
More information on Museum DKM