On view September 12, works by Georg Baselitz, Jörg Immendorff, and Markus Lüpertz, among others, add to the Phillips’s growing collection of Germanic postwar and contemporary art.
Washington, DC—With great excitement, The PhillipsCollection’s Director Dorothy Kosinski announced today the acquisition of 46 gifts of German and Danish art to the museum’s permanent collection, generously given by art collector and dealer Michael Werner. On view beginning September 12, this extraordinary gift of painting, sculpture, and works on paper showcases the museum’s commitment to building a carefully crafted collection that reflects museum founder Duncan Phillips’s vision and distinctive eye and advances the understanding of 20th-century European art.
“Michael’s collection is intensely personal, and his collecting style complements that of Duncan Phillips. Both were keen to develop close relationships with the artists they supported,
and they both possessed fondness for in-depth collecting of those artists’ works,” says Dr. Kosinski. “These gifts reinforce the Phillips’s commitment to acquire important works by
modern and contemporary artists who are masters of personal expression, a standard set by our founder nearly 100 years ago.”
In 1963, Michael Werner opened his first gallery in Berlin, with an exhibition of works by Georg Baselitz. Since then, Michael Werner Gallery—now based in Berlin, New York, and London—has worked with a number of the most important artists of the 20th century, including Marcel Broodthaers, James Lee Byars, Peter Doig, Jörg Immendorff, Per Kirkeby, Markus Lüpertz, A.R. Penck, and Sigmar Polke.
“Michael has set a remarkable example for collectors and dealers in the way he has consistently championed these artists over more than fifty years,” says Gordon VeneKlasen, Partner at Michael Werner Gallery. “Our hope is that the presentation of these works, the public programs surrounding it, and the upcoming survey of the work of Markus Lüpertz will help to increase the understanding of these major figures of European art in the United States.”
Michael Werner and Michael Werner Gallery have a long-standing relationship with the Phillips, including the loan of several major pieces to Per Kirkeby: Painting and Sculpture, a 2012 survey of the Danish artist’s work jointly curated by Dr. Kosinski and Deputy Director of Curatorial and Academic Affairs Klaus Ottmann. As part of a campaign to place works by German artists in international museum collections, Werner invited Dr. Kosinski to explore the possibility of a significant gift of works from both his personal collection and that of the gallery. Their collaboration resulted in this generous gift of 46 works by Georg Baselitz, Jörg Immendorff, Per Kirkeby, Markus Lüpertz, and A.R. Penck. All five were part of a generation of postwar artists who breathed new life into figuration, their work characterized by enormous versatility and a constant search to strike balance between abstraction and figuration, form and color.
“This gift—one of the most important since the museum opened to the public in 1921—represents a transformative enrichment of the Phillips’s collection,” says Dr. Ottmann. “It significantly adds to our growing holdings of European—specifically German—postwar and contemporary art and broadens this institution’s collection narrative.”
A selection of these works will be showcased in Postwar Germanic Expressions: Gifts from Michael Werner beginning September 12, accompanied by a series of lectures by distinguished scholars of postwar European art. The series will be inaugurated on September 24 with a Duncan Phillips Lecture by Dr. Richard Shiff—noted art historian and Director of the Center for the Study of Modernism at the University of Texas at Austin— titled “German Art Without Ideology,” which will explore the anti- ideological assertion of artistic freedom by a new generation of postwar artists in Germany. Other lectures include:
February 18, 2016: Dr. Pamela Kort, art historian and associate curator at the Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt, will reflect on Joseph Beuys as a source of Immendorff’s view of his role as an artist and its connection to the milieu of the artist prophets that arose in Germany around 1890
September 30, 2016: Former Museum of Modern Art curator and Dean of the Yale School of Art Robert Storr will discuss A.R. Penck and Jörg Immendorff’s politics in relation to their painting against the backdrop of the postwar East/West divide of the Cold War.
This educational initiative will culminate in a major survey of paintings and sculptures by Marus Lüpertz in the summer of 2017.