© Julie Mehretu, Photo: David Oliveira
Make New From Old was the motto of the Ambassador children’s events in August 2012.
Dr. Beate Zimmermann gave the children of the SOS Children’s Village Berlin-Moabit and Stiftung Jona a guided tour of the show Gabriel Orozco: Asterisms and afterwards showed them how they can make nice new things out of collected “found objects.”
For the current show, Gabriel Orozco: Asterisms, the artist collected thousands of discarded objects on a beach in Baja California Sur and a sports field in New York. View of the exhibition hall during the preview at the beginning of July with the Deutsche Guggenheim Club.
View of the closing event of the exhibition Paweł Althamer: ALMECH at the Deutsche Guggenheim, to which the Club and the participants of the casting were invited.
The Deutsche Guggenheim Club can view every exhibition prior to the official opening.
As curator, Nat Trotman, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, gave a guided tour of the preview of the show Paweł Althamer: ALMECH.
Walk through the city to Berlin monuments with children of the SOS Children’s Village Berlin-Moabit, guided by art historian Dr. Beate Zimmermann und Ambassadors of the Deutsche Guggenheim Club. The event took place in the framework of the show, Agathe Snow: All Access World, which dealt with monuments, landmarks and historical sites all over the world.
Since 2008, children of the Stiftung Jonas have been invited regularly to the Deutsche Guggenheim, where they are accompanied and supported by Ambassadors of the Deutsche Guggenheim Club and Deutsche Bank. The Founder of the foundation, Prof. Angelika Bier, was awarded the Federal Cross of Merit for her commitment in December 2010. We warmly congratulate her!
"All Access World is about a kind of battle between the viewer and the monuments," Agathe Snow explains. The young New Yorker is presenting her project for the art exhibition hall Unter den Linden at an exclusive studio visit of the Deutsche Guggenheim Club Ambassadors. In less than a week, the interactive environment, which is to a large extent assembled from everyday objects and materials from DIY stores, will be on view for the first time. So Snow and her team are in full swing. Yet there´s hardly any stress or hectic to be felt, quite to the contrary – relaxed and in a good mood, Snow and curator Katherine Brinson take their time to explain the concept of the exhibition to the visitors.
The theme of the show is the relationship between people and worldwide monuments and landmarks. Numerous pictures of attractions such as Stonehenge or the Taj Mahal cover the studio walls. Snow´s team is sawing, drilling and sewing to complete the final pieces. The Brandenburg Gate made of light foam material has yet to find its place on a cardboard Arc de Triomphe. The Ambassadors were highly interested in a tower-like construction made of shelves, plastic tubes and urinals – as an homage to Duchamp´s legendary ready-made, as Snow explains with a smile. Here, however, the bathroom ceramics with their conic shape serve to allude to the facade of the Sydney Opera House. At any rate, one thing is clear at the end of the studio visit – all visitors are very anxious to know what the Deutsche Guggenheim will look like as All Access World.
Jan has a penchant for green. After viewing the exhibition Color Fields at the Deutsche Guggenheim with 14 other children from the SOS Children´s Village Berlin Moabit, Claudia Da Silva, coordinator at the SOS Children´s Village, asked the young visitors to stand next to their favorite pictures. The clear winner of this "election" was Frank Stella´s Harran II with its fluorescent colors. Two thirds of the children gathered in front of the painting. Some, however, self-confidently resisted the trend and positioned themselves next to other favorites – like Jan, who was enthused by Larry Poon´s bright green, large-format painting, Wildcat Arrival.
For three years, the children´s program of the Ambassadors of the Deutsche Guggenheim Club has been introducing girls and boys, who otherwise hardly have the opportunity to encounter contemporary art, to the works of the exhibitions at the Deutsche Guggenheim – with great success. Several of the children between five and twelf years of age have already participated for the third or fourth time. With each visit they become less inhibited, ask spontaneous questions and participate in a lively manner in conversations with the art pedagogue Dr. Beate Zimmermann and the Ambassadors taking part in the event. This time, a gift was again presented to the children after the "color field workshop": a small box with wax crayons and a painting book on the theme of fairy tales, in which only the beginning of the respective story is shown – as an invitation to continue painting and complete the fairy tale at home.
There´s something like magic to it – peering through the window of the projection room to the dark screen, on which the first film images suddenly appear. This is what the members of the Deutsche Guggenheim Club were able to experience during their exclusive tour of Kino Arsenal. Walking through the movie theater at Potsdamer Platz, they had the opportunity to look behind the scenes of one of the world´s most important cinematographic institutions. In parallel to the exhibition Being Singular Plural at the Deutsche Guggenheim, Arsenal is currently screening the film series Moving Politics: Cinemas from India. The exhibition venue and the movie theater have been realizing joint projects time and again since 1999. Especially for the Deutsche Guggenheim Club, Stefanie Schulte-Strathaus, co-director of Arsenal, related the history of the movie theater to the guests and then gave them a guided tour of the premises.
One stop was the archive: From Stagecoach to Psycho – all visitors were able to discover their favorite movies in the high shelving units. After taking a look at the viewing tables, the highlight of the Club event followed: the screening of Superbia – Der Stolz. The director of such legendary films as Bildnis einer Trinkerin (Portrait of a Female Drunkard) was available afterwards for questions of the Club members and also presented her current project: Die Blutgräfin (The Blood Countess) – a vampire movie starring two icons of European cinema, Isabelle Huppert and Tilda Swinton.
"That looks just like a submarine" "No, more like a huge rusted egg." "A spaceship." "A zeppelin." Confronted for the first time with Anish Kapoor´s impressive sculpture Memory, a wide array of associations came to the minds of the young visitors to the Deutsche Guggenheim. The Ambassadors of the Deutsche Guggenheim Club invited a group of kids to take part in a creative workshop in the exhibition space at Unter den Linden. On two afternoons, girls and boys from the SOS Children´s Village and the Jona Foundation, which offers children homework assistance, lunch, and daycare, were guests here. The guided tour showed that art can also be a real adventure; like in a treasure hunt, the children first explored the mysterious object, which can be approached from three different angles. Museum educator Beate Zimmerman gave the kids a floor plan for viewing the Turner prizewinner´s 24-ton work. After thoroughly inspecting the orange-colored giant, they talked to the art historian about their impressions of Memory and asked an array of questions.
The last stop along the tour was particularly exciting. Here, a rectangular window cut into the wall offered a view into the artwork´s dark interior, a vantage point from which the sculpture´s outer skin could not be seen. This is where the children committed their remembered impressions of Memory to paper. Some concentrated on the form and drew an orange-colored oval, while others portrayed the web-like structure of the outer shell. After a lunch break, the kids were encouraged to create their own sculptures from clay. Animals like birds and elephants proved popular, but there were also hearts and even a hot dog. Many of the children scratched patterns into the surfaces of their sculptures that were reminiscent of the surface of Kapoor´s work. As with every event put on by the Deutsche Guggenheim Club, the young visitors received a small present afterwards: a sketchpad and a pack of wax crayons adorned with a drawing by Paul Klee—a playful motif that will surely inspire them to create more pictures after their visit.
What do the tongues of angels sound like? How does a "hell´s roast" (German for "troublemaker") taste? Are what are guardian angels, actually? This year´s children´s festival at the Gemäldegalerie in Berlin explored these questions. On October 12, the museum offered a diverse program called "Heaven and Hell." The many young visitors took part in guided tours, theater and music, magic tricks, games, and a big street for building things. The Deutsche Guggenheim Club also got involved and invited twenty kids from the Jona Foundation—a private initiative in Berlin-Staaken that provides homework assistance, lunch, and counseling—for a stimulating day at the Gemäldegalerie. Accompanied by four club ambassadors, the boys and girls first paid a visit to the Deutsche Guggenheim info stand decorated with white balloons. Here, the children received individual name tags and helped themselves to a big jar filled with candy. Thus fortified, they embarked on an exciting excursion through the beautifully decorated Gemäldegalerie. The hall was adorned with white cotton clouds and colorful walls, and huge gates were erected that were particularly spectacular: one was painted with floating angels, with the other a hell´s gate sporting a dragon and a violet-colored devil.
Luca Giordano´s depiction of the struggle between the archangel Michael and the devil made a particularly strong impression on the children. But they also paid close attention to the other paintings Beate Zimmermann introduced them to—such as Caravaggio´s victorious Amor or a painting of the Annunciation. They followed the art historian´s words with interest as she acquainted them with the stories depicted in the various paintings. On their tour throughout the museum, the kids repeatedly encountered museum staff dressed as angels and devils for the well-booked event. After lunch, the kids were then invited to become active in constructing figures of angels, houses, and party horns and painting their own pictures. Inspired by the paintings they saw during the tour—but also, of course, by the popular Halloween holiday—some of the most popular motifs were devils, bats, and vampires. And when a magician amazed them with his magic tricks in the end, it was a great conclusion for the young visitors of a day in the Gemäldegalerie that was as instructive as it was exciting.
As a fellow of Deutsche Guggenheim CLUB, you will enjoy numerous advantages that you can use anytime. One highlight is an exclusive guided tour of each exhibition at the Deutsche Guggenheim for all FELLOWS. In addition, you will receive a 10% discount in the SHOP and the CAFà‰ (excluding catalogs, books and editions).
The annual contribution is 30 Euros.
Regulated Fool's Milk Meadow, 2007
© Phoebe Washburn
Your benefit as FELLOW
This CLUB subscription is aimed at those who want to take a look behind the scenes of an exhibition through conversations with artists and curators, and who wish to take advantage of our exclusive special events. Ambassador subscribers also are concerned to support, outreach projects for children about art and education. Do become a subscriber and ambassador for art and culture!
The annual contribution is 250 Euros *.
©VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn
Your benefits as an AMBASSADOR
* An extra fee is charged for special events and CLUB trips.
Dr. Ingo Winkelmann is Director of the Division for Antarctica and Special Areas of International Law at the Federal Foreign Office. He was photographed inside Goldhahn & Sampson in Helmholzplatz, Berlin.
I’ve come to enjoy taking trips outside the realm of civil servants and diplomats … because while diplomatic compromise and a search for consensus mean much to me, some things in life, and especially in art, just don’t work without a more radical approach.
My Berlin is … metropolitan, open, straight-laced, filled to the brim with culture, teeming with local neighborhoods, rough, and has a decent amount of latte macchiato.
One of my first experiences in Angola was … a completely unexpected and cool evening in the hills of Luanda at an exhibition opening, organized by the charismatic local artist Fernando Alvim to inaugurate the Triennale of Luanda (2005–07).
Hotels and airline lobbies look the same on every continent, but art … should always remain a small and unique act of creation that can be bought here or there and kept.
To me, international law means … countries dealing peacefully with one another, their respect for each other, and the established norms at the foundation of all this, without laying claim to a perfect system.
Dr. Ingo Winkelmann
Ivo Wessel is a software developer; he is currently writing a book on iPhone programming and typing the most recent manuscript of his favorite writer, Eckhard Henscheid, in preparation for publication.
I occasionally publish books because … that is the most intense, beautiful, and many-layered way to absorb something.
I have said that if I had to choose between art and literature, it would be literature, albeit a close call, because … reading is seeing in more dimensions.
The task of a collector is … to make art possible, preserve it, and keep it alive.
I am not interested in effortless art because … there are enough people doing that already, and I prefer works that need a bit of explanation. Effortless art poses fewer questions and speaks to different collectors.
I bought my first computer in 1979 (a Sharp MZ-80K); my first great experience with art was … the "Vertical Earth Kilometer" by Walter de Maria at documenta 1977, which a few days ago I stood on top again in awe. The first time I saw it I was especially fascinated by the conceptual, virtual, and abstract elements; the potential and the logistics involved; and the trust in the truth of the work.
For me, video art is … art on a shelf, in the head, and sometimes in the eye, and each of these aspects holds its own attraction.
Angela Mani is communications designer and owner of the agency amani-berlin identity design. She lives and works in Berlin. She was photographed at the Botanic Garden.
I joined the Deutsche Guggenheim Club because … I learned to appreciate this imaginative concept of presenting art back when I was studying in the United States. Apart from the great exhibitions, the club has enabled me to take a peek behind the scenes, visit artists' studios, and get involved in children's and youth projects.
My first encounter with contemporary art was … as a teenager at documenta. I was shocked, unsettled, fascinated at the same time. This experience had a strong influence on my attitude toward art.
When I use colors, I … work intuitively. On top of that is my experience and knowledge. In my work I experiment with color combinations and nuances. Color is a language that can influence many things: it's something like a mother tongue for me.
A day at the botanical gardens is … a mixture of chaos and order, relaxation, deep longing, a feverish urge to discover, and total happiness. I love the excessive sensory impressions: hundreds of shades of green; the change in temperature; pleasant and strange fragrances; and prickly, velvety, or leathery surfaces.
The Deutsche Guggenheim should … be open day and night. I would have loved to spend a night in Anish Kapoor's sculpture "Memory" (2008). My son liked it a lot too.
Virginia Giordano is co-owner of Culture Trip, Germany´s leading luxury travel planner and is based in Berlin.
Without luxury my life would be ... a void.
I founded an agency for luxury travel because ... 17 years ago, we filled a gaping hole in the market.
If I wanted to experience Berlin without a cent in my pocket, I would ... visit the galleries!
If I could give my children one thing to take with them in their lives, it would be ... compassion.
I joined the Guggenheim Club because ... it connects me to New York, which is where I am from.
I live in Germany because ... I have two wonderful children.
For me, the world´s greatest travel destination is ... Germany. The diversity, creativity, and believe it or not, the food and wine, make it a fabulous place to visit.
For me, tailor-made Culture Trips means ... fulfilling dreams.
In my job it is essential that ... I know what is "it" at the moment.
When I come home in the evening after a long day, I ... light the candles, pop the cork, and settle into a good read.
In my eyes, style is ... surprising simplicity.
The Deutsche Guggenheim should be ... on every visitor´s list!
You live and work in Stuttgart. How did you become a member of the Deutsche Guggenheim Club in Berlin?
The Guggenheim in New York always fascinated me, so when I found out about the Deutsche Guggenheim, and the membership offer was lying there on my table, I made my decision very quickly. I was also keen on the possibility of meeting and getting to know Deutsche Bank clients interested in art. In my everyday life, I unfortunately don´t come into contact with art all that frequently, so it´s a good opportunity to explore it more. But I can also make a present of a Deutsche Guggenheim Club membership to my clients, who, of course, think it´s great that Deutsche Bank makes such a thing possible. Clients love it when we visit the exhibitions here with them.
Which exhibition did you especially like?
I found the Anish Kapoor show simply fantastic. But then I went with some colleagues to see Phoebe Washburn´s grass factory. My colleagues, who were not quite as familiar with art, asked me if I was pulling their leg. We looked at the installation without a guide, and things like that are almost always difficult. But I find art especially fascinating when it challenges me and I don´t understand what it means at first. Then, when I revisit the exhibition with a guide and everything goes "click," it´s so great to understand the artist´s thoughts. That´s why I find the programs with the art to be extremely important.
This is the aim of the club´s various activities with schoolchildren and youths.
I´ve already taken part in a social project in which we visited an exhibition at the Neue Nationalgalerie with a group of children. The kids came from an SOS Children´s Village Project in Berlin-Moabit. They were really interested. I think it´s great that these things reach out to children from homes where art is not really talked about.
Thomas Andrae is a gallery owner and collector who has been a Deutsche Guggenheim Club member from the very beginning. In an interview, he reminisces about a personal yet strange encounter with one of the world´s most famous artists: Bill Viola
Photo: David Oliveira
Which role does art play in your life?
A very big one. Art has always motivated me to develop further and to explore new areas. I bought my first artwork when I was 19 years old, a painting called American Express by the American artist Raymond Hains. The title is ambiguous. The work shows an AMEX logo that is so distorted that it actually looks like an express train is racing by. It illustrates the effect of logos and brands, which we register and understand despite the speed and movement in our lives. I was enthusiastic about this painting. Whenever I walked past it, I saw something new and took something with me.
Were you particularly fascinated by the link to business?
Yes, but also by the cultural background. I grew up in Berlin and then studied and lived for a while in America. I come from an old merchant family. So I´m a born dealer, as it were, but at the same time I always wanted to do something in art. Initially, I studied computer science and business, and then, via collecting, which I began more than 20 years ago, art became my main profession. Around five years ago I started working on the concept of my gallery Cream, which opened three years ago and has been located in the Berlin-Mitte district for two years. The gallery´s program focuses on artists from East Germany who studied, for example, at the College for Graphics and Book Art in Leipzig, in Dresden, or at the Burg Giebichenstein in Halle. The program is clearly oriented to contemporary art, and we primarily present the work of young artists.
Why did you decide to concentrate on recent East German art?
Among other things, because my cousin studied at the College for Graphics and Book Art in Leipzig in the mid 1990s. I went with him occasionally and wandered through different studios. I met artists such as Neo Rauch and representatives of the so-called New Leipzig School very early on, before the big boom. As well as Judy Lybke, of course, and the whole entourage around him. It was all very unpretentious, casual and amusing. I experienced great things. Then I saw Neo´s first exhibition, in 1997, at the Museum of Fine Arts in Leipzig. That was when I bought my first work by him, and I continued to collect his work consistently because I was so fascinated by his visual world.
And subsequently you took the professional step from the world of finance to the world of art.
Let´s say, from a very digital world, primarily consisting of "0's" and "1's", of 'yes' or 'no', to the art world, where I experienced that there are also things between '0' and '1'. And where you find a comprehensive, deep definition of things, which are much more complex than the things we see and experience in day-to-day life. For me, art is a completely different kind of challenge. I derive great enjoyment from these emotional goods, from positioning art and, in the end, selling it. To be quite honest, ultimately it´s about the artists being able to live and pay their rent at home and in their studios.
You you´re a collector-cum-gallery owner.
That´s right. And I continue to collect because it´s an important part of the passion, but my main focus in the gallery. Of course, I have to be careful when I see a great work by one of our artists and think, "ah, I simply must have that..."
Let´s talk about the Deutsche Guggenheim Club. When did you join?
I think I was one of the very first people to join. I have a single-digit member number. I was an acquaintance of Svenja Gräfin von Reichenbach, who had just started her job as director of the Deutsche Guggenheim. We met often and discussed whether certain ideas pertaining to the club made sense, whether they were economical and practical, how they would be viewed by members. So I decided to join.
What´s the most important task of the club, in your view?
One of the club´s most important tasks is to bring people, particularly those who come via Deutsche Bank, closer to art. Deutsche Bank has a global collection that is present in bank buildings everywhere. It has a kind of funnel function, because it arouses an interest in art and then channels it more strongly through offers such as the Deutsche Guggenheim Club. It´s a question of understanding what truly constitutes art through the work of your circle of friends.
And by meeting the artists personally.
Yes. I went to almost every opening so I could meet the artists. I have a very good story about Bill Viola. In the middle of the '90s I worked near Checkpoint Charlie for the Philip Johnson House, the huge complex that was built on Friedrichstrasse. I worked directly for Ronald Lauder. He was one of the big investors in the project. I was responsible for the entire technical marketing and sales. This was at a time when I didn´t know much about art yet. One day Ronald Lauder stopped by with someone in tow who looked like a head janitor or technician. The man had a beard and wore blue overalls. He looked like someone who wanted to see what was going on at the construction site. So I took him on a tour of the whole building. He was very interested in perspectives in the building and wanted to know where the elevator shafts were and how people moved through the building. He continually talked about video. But I didn´t know what he was planning, and he didn´t tell me.
Didn´t it come out at some point that he was an artist?
No. We spent the whole day together, went out to dinner in the evening, and exchanged business cards when we parted. I still have his card today. It said something like: "Bill Viola, VIDEO, Sunset Boulevard..., Los Angeles, California". A year later, after I had dealt with art much more intensively, I attended an exhibition at the Hamburger Bahnhof. There was a water faucet on the wall from which a drop of water oozed out every few minutes accompanied by a bang on a tambourine. The sound was electronically amplified and the trembling drop of water, which slowly fell from the faucet, was recorded on video and projected live in an enlarged form. I was impressed by the artistic quality of this combination and looked for the name of the artist on the wall sign. It was Bill Viola. Later, I met him again at the opening of his magnificent commissioned work Going Forth By Day at the Deutsche Guggenheim. He painted an amusing picture for me in the catalog and said he was very glad that I had been so casual towards him during the tour of the Philip Johnson House.
Art is one of Elke and Friedhelm Graue's greatest passions. The active collectors from Bad Nenndorf can be seen regularly in Berlin´s art scene, and they particularly enjoy their encounters with artists through the Deutsche Guggenheim Club.
Photo: Andreas Mühe
When did you begin collecting art?
Friedhelm Graue: We began collecting in the 1960s, while we were living in Cologne. We started with prints, editions, and multiples. We´ve always wanted to live with the art, and so we concentrated on works that we could hang or install at home.
Elke Graue: we had more paintings than furniture.
FG: We grew up with Jospeh Beuys, of course, who was the first artist we began collecting, and we met him in 1977 at documenta 6, where he presented his Honey Pump in the Workplace (1977). The work was very impressive. Then, in the early years, we began collecting Sigmar Polke, Imi Knoebel, Georg Herold, and Michael Buthe, who was included in the exhibition Abstraction and Empathy this summer at the Deutsche Guggenheim.
After the 1960s and 1970s generation, how did your collecting activities develop to the present day?
FG: We´re always on the lookout for new things. For instance, we collect younger contemporary artists like Michael Sailstorfer, Jonathan Meese, Daniel Richter, and Armin Boehm. But we also are interested in those with highly individual approaches like Miriam Cahn, who was born 1949. She is a somewhat eccentric Swiss artist whom we met at the Kunstakademie Braunschweig. She was supposed to give a lecture at a large symposium. Instead, she walked up to the podium, took a recorder out of its case, and gave a 20-minute concert. Then she walked away.
EG: We had traveled there especially to see her, and all she said was: "There´s been so much said already about art; I´ll play you a tune instead."¯
FG: That´s the kind of creativity I really like.
EG: We´ve been club members since 2002, and 1e´ve met many artists through the Deutsche Guggenheim, especially at the talks in artists´ studios.
FG: The impetus for us was the Gerhard Richter: Eight Gray exhibition (2002). We were already playing with the idea of joining, but Richter was an artist whom we really wanted to meet. So we became members shortly before the opening, and we actually had a very nice conversation with him although he is considered to be very reserved. What I especially like are the exclusive talks before the openings, because one meets so many interesting artists there, like Richard Artschwager or John Baldessari. I also value the editions that accompany each exhibition, some of which such as the Richter piece we´ve purchased.
EG: But I also find the studio visits and encounters with artists inspiring, and this wouldn´t be as possible without the club. I particularly recall Thomas Demand, Olaf Nicolai, Martin Eder, and Valérie Favre. We´ve been everywhere, really.
FG: We recently went to Julie Mehretu´s studio too. During this visit, I noticed that you can´t really understand her works just by looking at them. You really have to get involved with them. Her works possess an enormous dynamic force. If you view them superficially, you fail to see the landscapes and architecture in them; you don´t perceive the fine points. There are an unbelievable number of layers, and I´m very impressed at the way she builds up her paintings. She sets up everything on the computer and with the help of projectors. I´m fascinated by the enormous amount of work behind it all.
EG: But the nicest thing is that we´ve met so many people with similar interests during these events. A few very nice friendships have developed out of it. The Guggenheim is a great thing. We´re addicted to it, real hardcore members!
Elke and Friedhelm Graue
For a long time, Yvonne Borrmann moved back and forth between Argentina and Germany. She has been living in Berlin with her family for the past seven years now. The TV journalist is as dedicated to art as she is to theater, which is why she´s involved with two institutions she particularly values: the Schaubühne and the Deutsche Guggenheim.
Photo: David Oliveira
As a journalist, you´re often involved with art.
Yvonne Borrmann: I work as a journalist for TV. Because I grew up bilingual and traveled back and forth between South America and Germany, I had this complex that I didn´t write well enough in German, which was why I went into television instead of print. We´ve been living in Berlin for seven years now, and I make documentaries here on a freelance basis. My last project was about artists in Berlin. Recently, to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, I completed a film about young artists for the German Information Center—not just painters and sculptors, but also theater people and musicians who grew up in a reunified Berlin. But I´m not working very much at the moment, as I´m expecting my third child.
So besides art, you also love theater.
YB: Yes, I also have an honorary position on the board of the Friends of the Schaubühne Association. The committee wanted to include more young people and began recruiting new members. My aunt Ruth Walz worked at the Schaubühne for years as a theater photographer, which was why I saw the plays with Bruno Ganz. That was my own personal tie to Berlin and to this particular theater. When I was a kid, I always went to the Schaubühne when Peter Stein´s legendary production of Three Sisters played. Initially, I wasn´t so sure about a Schaubühne run by Thomas Ostermeier. But then I thought about how important it is to get young people interested in contemporary theater. It´s an intellectual challenge, just like contemporary art. Especially in the Internet era, when all anyone seems interested in is how many facebook friends they have. When people hardly have the patience to read a whole book anymore, it´s all the more important to be able to concentrate on a single thing. This is exactly what a play at the Schaubühne reinforces—the ability to concentrate on something for two or three hours. I too find it unbearable sometimes to sit in a chair for that length of time [laughs]. But a play has to touch you personally, of course; this is my expectation for any form of theater—or fine arts. It has to knock your socks off.
How did you first become interested in art?
YB: I´ve always been interested in art. Maybe it was also a result of moving around so much—because it gave me a home anywhere I went. The first thing my mother did in each new city we moved to was to take us to the museums. But I was also introduced to art through my friends, some of whom are artists themselves. My best friend, who moves back and forth between Berlin and San Francisco and knows a lot about art, took me along to Art Basel years ago. A fundamental interest has always been there. And particularly because my husband has a profession very different from mine—he heads a venture capital company—it´s something that´s very nice for couples to do: to go on studio visits, meet artists, travel to fairs, or have discussions with like-minded people. To put it in a very banal way, these are things that are nicer when you do them together. It´s more fun to talk about things like this at the end of the day than about the daily routine, children, the job. There has to be something that transcends all this.
You yourself collect art. What kinds of work interest you the most?
YB: I wouldn´t call it collecting. Actually, I hate it when I go to these gallery weekends and people ask me if I´m an artist or a collector. I´m neither of the two. We don´t collect, we just buy on occasion, on gut instinct. The focus is definitely on conceptual works and on photography. And then, of course, a personal contact to an artist also plays a big role here—you value their working method or approach, you love the work, and then, at some point, you buy something. Of all the works we have, we know many of the artists personally. At any rate, it´s an important form of contact. But I don´t really see myself as a collector.
The economy is in crisis right now, which means that the art world is too, of course. American museums dependent on private sponsors are running out of cash. People speculate that art has to become deeper again, that it has to move away from the hedonist social event and back to content. Do you believe that attitudes towards art are currently changing?
YB: Much has changed in the art world over the past several years, that´s for sure. And a lot of people have jumped onto the bandwagon. But what I find awful are all these art groupies. Art has taken on a completely different status—and now the general public is interested in it as well, which is good in itself. Even the economic crisis won´t change much in that respect. To be a bit mean, you could say that art is today what tennis or golf were in the eighties—something you simply have to be part of. But at the same time, it´s great when people get excited about it. The hedonist aspects will change—if for no other reason than the fact that the money just isn´t there anymore. There won´t be the same kind of partying going on: that was a dance on the volcano. Many people say that the quality will improve; this is something I´ve observed as well. On the other hand, I´d never say that it´s great the crisis is here and that everything will become so much better now. Good art has been made, even in the recent past—but that is something each person must decide for herself.
But you do believe that the interest in art will remain.
YB: Absolutely. Art has become so important over the past twenty or thirty years. I think what will remain are the huge numbers of visitors to the museums, the fact that private collections have opened up to the public, that people travel to Christian Boros´ bunker to see his art. This widespread interest, particularly in contemporary art, won´t diminish. The whole art field has changed far too much for that: the collections have taken on the character of museums, and conversely the museums have taken on the character of collections—for instance in Berlin or Munich, as can be seen with the Museum Brandhorst. A lot has been set in motion through private collections being made public. This forces the museums to think over their role, to redefine themselves or to forge connections, depending on the position they want to take.
What do you think is the role of the Deutsche Guggenheim on the Berlin museum scene?
YB: Because the Deutsche Guggenheim is so different from the Guggenheim in New York, it seems like an in-between thing to me. And it´s something we really need here in Berlin—which is why I´m a member of the Deutsche Guggenheim Club. It puts on small, exquisite exhibitions. The fact that the space is so tiny compared with New York lends a very special, intimate atmosphere to the exhibitions there. At the same time, the Deutsche Guggenheim has a strong relationship with its public—for instance through its lectures or the children´s program. My oldest daughter is five now, and we´re just starting to take her to the children´s events. I like this American system, with its social commitment to children. That was missing here, and that´s one reason why the Deutsche Guggenheim plays such an important role in this city.
Which exhibitions did you like the best?
YB: The first thing that comes to mind is The Vanity of Allegory, the group exhibition curated by Douglas Gordon. It was done very well, very intelligently. I knew his work previously, but for me the way Gordon conceived the show opened up an entirely new approach to him as an artist. And then, apropos theater, William Kentridge´s Black Box/ Chambre Noire, of course. And Anish Kapoor´s Memory—also because we visited his London studio with the Club. It´s always impressive to experience an artist when he or she talks about their work, which Kapoor did in such a modest and wonderful way. When you see the exhibition afterwards, you have a completely different relationship to it. It´s always so wonderful, and that´s why I like almost every exhibition at the Deutsche Guggenheim—how this space can change, and how intelligently the exhibition program is implemented.
What´s the most important thing to you about the Deutsche Guggenheim Club, besides the encounters with the artists?
YB: Unfortunately, we often don´t have the time to take part in the trips that much anymore. But we visited the last Venice Biennale with the Club. This was particularly great because it was such a small circle. That´s one thing I find really important: meet the member. It´s good to get to know other people, to exchange views. Actually, I´m a part of it because it´s also a way to support the institution, whether it´s the Schaubühne or the Deutsche Guggenheim. Not merely because one wants to profit from it personally by getting to know the artists. Instead, the motivation can be to say: I like what they do, and I´d like to support it.
Cynthia Barcomi was one of the very first members of the Guggenheim Club. And she´s what you´d call a "self-made woman." With her café and deli, she successfully brought an element of American culinary culture to Berlin—as well as a highly individual philosophy of cooking.
When did you join the Deutsche Guggenheim Club?
I joined right at the beginning, when they first opened. I was so glad that the Guggenheim opened here. I used to live in New York, where I was exposed to a lot of art. I was accustomed to going to the Guggenheim, the Whitney, the MoMA, and the Metropolitan Museum. Here in Berlin, it seemed there were only the National Gallery and a lot of private galleries. Somehow it felt like the Guggenheim was a piece of home for me.
But it´s so different from the Guggenheim in New York.
It is totally different. It´s tiny. But I liked the fact that it was small. I think they use the space very well. When I was living in Kreuzberg, I used to go to all the openings. We were really busy working at that time, and so it was a social thing, it was fun. And I also liked doing the family brunches. The kids loved that. But since we moved away from the city center, it´s not as easy to take part in all the club´s activities.
What was your favorite exhibition?
The Dan Flavin show really surprised me; it was important to see it with someone who could elucidate the work´s background. The exhibitions at the Deutsche Guggenheim are enlightening in different ways, whether it was Jeff Koons, Tom Sachs, or Kara Walker, whose show was a very powerful experience for me. I also found the Jackson Pollock show outstanding, because it went beyond what you´d usually associate with that artist.
You yourself are a pioneer who brought a taste of American culture to Berlin: homemade bagels, cookies, muffins, Devil´s Food cake, New York cheesecake. In 1994 you opened "Barcomi´s,"¯ a café that also sold freshly roasted coffee. And then you opened a second branch in 1997, this time a deli with American food. Both places have remained a huge success to this day. How did the adventure begin?
I moved here as a dancer; I had danced professionally for eight years. I was 29 when my second daughter was born, and I felt I didn´t have to do it anymore. Dancing is demanding. If you aren´t training five to six days a week, you can´t do it. It just wasn´t compatible anymore with the way I wanted to live my life. I had been trained to believe that I could do anything, and so I asked myself, "Well, what would you like to do?" And what came to mind was, "Actually, I´d like to roast coffee beans." So I went to the National Library here in Berlin—there was no Internet in 1993, and so I took out a lot of books and read everything I could about it. And I thought, "OK, I can do that." But it was a long process that required a lot of learning, of course.
What was the reaction when you first opened Barcomi´s?
We started with the brownies, the muffins, and the cheesecakes. Those things are pretty banal for Americans, but here in Berlin fifteen years ago, a lot of people had no idea how good American baked goods can be. Food reflects the culture and the surroundings, and America is a huge country with so many different kinds of food. Some people had some notion of what a bagel was, but many didn´t. They´d point at a muffin and say, "I´ll have a bagel." And I said, well, OK—those are the bagels and those are the muffins. It was very much about teaching people what the food is like—especially the people who work in my kitchen. None of them had ever been to the United States. I don´t have one American working in my kitchen.
I don´t need Americans in my kitchen. I don´t want anybody working with their own interpretation of what I want. I am a purist. Either it´s my way or the highway.
So you´re not fostering other people´s creativity in your kitchen?
No. If there are going to be new dishes, then I´m the one who develops them, because in the end my name goes on them. It´s a matter of quality. I have to be sure that what people do at Barcomi´s remains purely my interpretation. I like to make things that satisfy people physically and emotionally. One Sunday after I had just gone into business, I was killing myself making all the cakes and muffins and everything. It was eleven in the morning, and I was wondering, "It´s deadly silent, is there nobody upstairs in the café?" But it was completely full, everybody was eating in utter silence. I like to make things that people eat and look at, and then take another bite of while thinking "Mmmmhhmm!"¯
You are currently working on your third cookbook for Random House. Your first book was about baking, the second one about celebration food, and the current one deals with daily food.
It´s about comfort food, food that tastes even better the next day. It´s not necessarily about slaving away in the kitchen every night.
What´s the philosophy behind your recipes?
You need to have a vision. Or you need to have an excellent recipe that gives you the vision. What´s surprising is that people don´t have a conception of what a cheesecake or a cookie should taste like. Of course they know what they look like, because they´ve seen photographs of them in books, but they don´t really know what they should taste like. And I think there´s a chance in trying to communicate that to someone, to make it accessible. A cookbook is measured by the success that people have when using it. I don´t believe that food has to be incredibly complicated. I enjoy things that are very simple, straightforward, and doable.
Does this also apply to your taste in art?
No, don´t get me wrong, it´s also about achieving a certain level of complexity. You know, there´s something I like in art, something I like in food, and something I like in fashion... it´s the juxtaposition. You need the contrast. I was in London last month, and I saw the Rothko retrospective at the Tate Modern. I knew his work, but I had never paid that much attention to him before the show. But what I did enjoy was the context the paintings were in, for instance the very black one that was in the church in Texas. When you first look at it, you just think it´s black. Then you start to realize the texture behind it and the layering, the spirit, the liveliness within it. It really moved me. I realized how many layers there are, how he creates these intense textures of color. I feel it´s the same with food. Each dish is a combination of flavors, but also of texture, color, and shape. You are the only one who understands what you want to get out of it, what you are trying to communicate, whether it´s a cookie or a scoop of ice cream. As I´ve said, I feel that cooking and baking is all about having a vision. What´s really challenging about doing it is demystifying it.
Kristina Ehle and Sascha Lazimbat are young collectors from Berlin. Active participation in art activities is just as important to them as direct contact with artists. For them, the artists' talks organized by the Deutsche Guggenheim Club are one of the highlights of the program.
You are two of the most prominent young collectors in Berlin. How did you develop a passion for contemporary art?
Sascha Lazimbat: It was a gradual process. We´ve been collecting since 2001 or 2002. We always went to museums regularly, but at first we didn´t follow the gallery scene very closely. In the last ten years, there has been an enormous amount of development in this area in Berlin, and we became more and more interested in what went on in artists´ spaces and commercial galleries. We were drawn to this vital scene very quickly; we plunged into it head over heals, and it reached the point where we traveled to trade fairs and other important events around the world that we thought we really had to attend to see artworks.
Kristina Ehle: The step from museums to galleries was also influenced by experienced and older collectors we met. At a certain juncture you reach the point where you say: I don´t want to just look at work of art outside. I want to have it for myself, in my home, where I can view it every day.
SL: At first there was no master plan or red thread for our collecting activities, but simply works that fascinated us. We intuitively bought what captivated us and what was financially feasible.
KE: (Laughs) In the meantime, we´ve become increasingly indebted to art...
What was the first work you bought?
KE: It was a painting by Peter Rösel.
SL: Yes. This relatively minimal painting is hanging here in our bedroom. It depicts a desert landscape with a fata morgana. Peter Rösel actually traveled through desert landscapes in Namibia looking for places where there were mirages and fata morganas. He tried to capture this on canvas. The exact GPS code of the place in the desert is marked on the frame. So you could travel to the exact spot, but you wouldn´t see what´s in the picture because it was only an apparition.
Your collection includes painting and sculpture as well as photography and video. Are there common denominators between the works you collect?
KE: Art has to have a conceptual level which at the same time leads to an aesthetic solution. Art has to do with our lives and our work, with our cultural background and with the things we´re interested in.
SL: I work for Warner Music where I´m in charge of business and corporate development. My work focuses on new activities that are becoming more and more important for former record companies due to the transformation of the market: staging of live concerts, merchandising, Internet offers, the commercialization of artists´ Web sites.
KE: I´m a free-lance attorney and consultant for copyrights and contracts, but I primarily deal with and give advice on business issues rather than legal matters. My clientele are artists, small galleries, and art projects. So we´re both lawyers at the interface between media, entertainment, content and technology of new media. This also plays a big role in our passion for young art and collecting activities. What´s important is an exchange of content, inspiration and ideas. It´s very important to us to become acquainted with works and the artists behind them. This goes especially well when you collect young art. So far we´ve been extremely lucky, because the artists from whom we´ve bought works were always very nice and friendly people, people with whom we also like to do things privately.
SL: Of course this personal level is not essential. We´re fundamentally interested in encounters with artists. And that´s why I find the artists´ talks the most exciting and important part of the Deutsche Guggenheim Club.
KE: For example, we got the opportunity to meet Gerhard Richter through the club. We really liked Tom Sachs, and of course Jeff Wall. Those are encounters that were very important to me and were incredibly enjoyable.
SL: We were thrilled to be able to go to previews, including Cai Guo-Qiang´s fireworks display, when he blew up an entire house for his exhibition Head On.
KE: I find it remarkable that this year the club started making art accessible to deprived children. We have provided financial support and taken part in events. Many of the children had never been downtown, let alone in a museum. I think it´s excellent that Deutsche Bank is getting involved in this area. In the long run, the club should support more such projects.
Apart from art you both love good food. If a sorcerer gave you the choice of either eating good food for the rest of your life or viewing good art, what would you opt for?
KE: Good food!
SL: I´d ask the sorcerer to transform artworks into edible art.
Kristina Ehle and