Joëlle and Eric Romba

Interview with Joëlle and Eric Romba

Rocca Stiftung – Berlin, Germany

What was the first piece of artwork you purchased, and when was this? 
We met in Berlin in 2002. A friend of ours thought we might be a match because we were both interested in art. Joëlle was living in Cologne at that time and on her visits to Berlin we checked out a lot of galleries. Six weeks after our first encounter we decided to buy our first artwork. We discovered Julien Michel at Galerie Mehdi Chouakri; he was a French artist and photorealistic painter. The title of the work is "La femme a qui ride". It´s now hanging in Eric´s office. Unfortunately Julien died a couple of years ago.

Why do you collect?
Visuality was the beginning. We bought art due to its attraction. Joëlle is a trained art historian and was already part of the art community. Together we developed and enjoyed a deeper insight in the arts and the international art world. On our trips to art fairs around the world, we got to know a lot of galleries, artists, curators, museum people and of course other collectors. We built up nice relations and we made connections worldwide. The discussions about art and cultural history were very thrilling and night filing. And of course the desire to own a work, desperate to have it and in an economic way make irrational decisions. It started as a visual thing and it is now a state of mind.

Does your collection follow a concept or a specific theme?
At the beginning we bought what we liked. Later when we established our foundation we sat down to categorize our works. Five topics are represented in our collection: photorealistic painting, contemporary Op Art, the search of identity in photography, examination of architecture in art, art historical archetypes in todays artistic production. 

Which artists do you follow at the moment?
Matti Braun, Leigh Ledare, Ignacio Uriarte, Noa Gur, Jeroen Jacobs, Charlotte Posenenske, Daniel Lergon, Gitte Schäfer, Philippe Decreuzat, Leonor Antunes, Eva Berendes, Haleh Redjaian, Slawomir Elsner and many more.

Do you have a personal relationship with the artists you collect?
Sometimes. Their oeuvre is crucial for us. We are always open to getting to know the artists personally and they are warmly invited to see their work(s) at our home. 

Why did you decide to make your collection publicly accessible?
Art is produced to be looked at by as many people as possible. We are happy to share our private selection of art with as many people as possible. At a certain point your collection gets to a size where the logistic effort exceeds and is far away from a hobby. Then you need to decide if you become a serious collector or just let it flow.

Which publicly accessible private collection would you recommend visiting?
In Berlin we recommend to see Sammlung Hoffmann, Sammlung Boros and Haubrokprojects. In Munich Sammlung Goetz. The Langen Foundation in Hombroich and Sammlung Falckenberg in Hamburg are also musts for all art aficionados.

Read more about Rocca Stiftung

Joëlle and Eric Romba
View on an artwork by Philippe Decreuzat
View into the living room with works by Felix Kiessling and Charlotte Posenenske

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