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Pinakothek der Moderne / Sammlung Moderne Kunst : New Acquisition from the Lothar Schirmer Collection


The Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen announced the acquisition of a selection of works by members of the Düsseldorf School of Photography from the art collection of publisher Lothar Schirmer.

One of the established focuses in the private art collection owned by the internationally renowned publisher Lothar Schirmer (*1945) is contemporary photographic art. As a result of his work as an art publisher – with a spotlight on photography here as well – and thanks to his intensive, trustful cooperation with the artists Bernd and Hilla Becher, Lothar Schirmer already found himself in close contact with young, not yet established artists in the 1980s. The photographers, now also known as Becher students, subsequently caused a sensation internationally through their largely colourful and often large-format works. They established photography as one of the most important media in contemporary art and, in the meantime, now have a permanent place in the artistic canon. As a result of these personal contacts at a very early stage Lothar Schirmer was able to acquire individual works and series of photographs before they had even found their way onto the art market. He also gave a number of artists a platform early on by bringing out books of the photographers’ works in his own publishing house. The photographic collection reflects the publisher’s infallible understanding of the art of the moment; it is unique and of exceptionally high quality.

Through the work of the former head of the collection of photography and new media at the Pinakothek der Moderne, Dr. Inka Graeve Ingelmann, a close relationship formed with the collector and publisher Lothar Schirmer, who has been living in Munich since the 1970s. The acquisition of selected works by members of the Düsseldorf School of Photography draws on the continuity of this alliance, documented by purchases and gifts.

This selection of 55 works reflects the broad spectrum and differentiated approaches within the so-called Düsseldorf School of Photography and covers the period from 1982 to 2011, with a focus on the 1990s. It ranges from large-format works in colour (Thomas Struth) to small-format photographs in black and white (Petra Wunderlich), includes both single pictures (Martin Rosswog) and series of works (Simone Nieweg), takes in landscapes (Elger Esser, Axel Hütte), agricultural machinery (Ulrich Gambke), objects (Claus Goedicke) and people (Thomas Ruff), as well as – in a variety of different ways – interiors (Laurenz Berges, Candida Höfer), while also drawing on artistic appropriation (Jörg Sasse).

Through this addition the Modern Art Collection of the Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen in the Pinakothek der Moderne now boasts a wide-ranging and exceptionally high-quality collection of works from the Düsseldorf School of Photography.


Lothar Schirmer, Publisher and Art Collector:
“I am very pleased that the Pinakothek der Moderne has acquired part of my private collection of photographs and that, with their works, the artists I collect are now even more prominently represented in this outstanding museum in Munich. It feels as if I have been awarded the Nobel Prize for Collecting.”

Prof. Dr. Bernhard Maaz, Director General of the Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen:
“I am extremely happy that, through working together with the collector over a number of years and thanks to long-term financing, it has been possible to secure this exquisite collection for Munich and, as a result, to further increase the relevance of this museum as a place for the study of photography.”

Dr. Franziska Kunze, Head of Photography and Time-Based Media:
“With the strategic selection of works, gaps in the collection of photography after 1980 were closed. The existing holdings of the Düsseldorf School of Photography were expanded and supplemented by further positions of its representatives. The works acquired illustrate the diversity of artistic forms of expression used by the so-called Becher students, enter into a wonderful dialogue with international works of the period and are an inspiration for important thematic presentations.”


Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen
Barer Str. 29
80799 München, Germany

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