You have a very eclectic collection of art objects. How do you collect?
Manuela Alexejew: ‘They are brought together by an inner meaning, by a red thread which ties them all together. You can see connections in the kitchen, too, where everything is related to Pop Art, and in the bedroom where I have displayed the sweep of art history from the 18th century to today.’
So is cultural embedding a big issue for the collection?
‘The most important thing is that the pieces talk to each other. You notice straight away if things
fit together; they represent their own worlds of thought.’
When a piece of art immediately jumps out at you, is the decision to buy a quick process?
‘Absolutely. I am a quick buyer and most of the time, when I buy a piece of art I already know where I’m going to put it. Collecting is closely linked with your soul. My collection reveals a lot about me and that makes it interesting, both for me and for others.’
The photograph shows this nicely with the Toile de Jouy in the background.
‘It is hand-printed wallpaper; it gives the impression that there is a further dimension within the room. The portrait is of an old bachelor dedicated to ‘keeping up appearances’. Opposite him is my bed, above which is a portrait of the Prussian princess Philippine Charlotte, Frederick the Great’s sister. She was painted by a pupil of Antoine Pesne in the 18th century. The old bachelor, on the other hand, is by Lennart Grau, a young artist who lives here in Berlin and studies with Leiko Ikemura.’
I am a quick buyer and most of the time, when I buy a piece of art I already know where I’m going to put it
How did you come across Grau?
‘I met him at Ikemura’s class graduation. I came into the room and saw the painting, and it immediately clicked. I wanted it straight away, I knew it would soften Philippine, it would carry the story. ‘
The portrait of the Queen Elizabeth fits in with this.
‘I spotted that in London. I find it tragic that one can’t meet her in person, so the portrait functions
as a nice substitute. It is also by a young artist, the Englishman James Lloyd.’
And in between all this there’s 300 years of the history of furniture, from the baroque cabinet
to Italian designer pieces.
‘I saw Sella, the bicycle saddle by Achille Castiglioni, in a shop window, and I thought it was unusual
and beautiful. Sadly, it was too expensive for me at the time; I had to wait 50 years before I bought it at auction. It stands on an antique Turkish carpet, which my husband found amongst other carpets. Only when it was sent to the restorer did we find out what a rare and precious piece it is.’