You have devoted your home to showcasing your art, and you also have an exhibition platform in Dusseldorf. Do you want to own things or are you more interested in generating and curating exhibitions?
Gil Bronner: ‘I don’t regard it as a private collection made for a private household — after all we are in the process of constructing a new 1,800-square-metre exhibition space which will be more like a private museum. I use this word reluctantly, since I won’t be able to fulfill the academic mission of a public museum. Nevertheless, I have conducted my collecting to this end for quite some time now: I am trying to collect complementary pieces, to close certain gaps, to illustrate what is currently relevant in the art market.’
In the art market?
‘You could also call it the art scene; I think the terms can be used interchangeably as you can’t separate one from the other these days.’
You started your collection with artists from your own generation. How did that develop?
‘Well I have grown older and today’s relevant artists are mostly younger; and I have also acquired historical paintings. But there are mainly pieces by artists who are aged between 30 and 60.’
Isn’t it the job of a state-run museum to create a collection which shows the current art tendencies?’
‘I believe I can fill a gap, as there is no museum which clearly and solely collects contemporary art. There are of course institutions which also collect contemporary pieces and there are exhibition spaces, but they don’t actively buy and collect. I am able to showcase work which is not in a museum, more permanently and perhaps more diversely. As a private collector I have more freedom of choice.’
I am able to showcase work which is not in a museum. As a private collector I have more freedom of choice
Do you have the typical collector’s gene?
‘Without a doubt; I have never sold a thing!’
Is it a problem that your collection will over time lose its contemporary feel?
‘Not to the extent that I could imagine selling, but hopefully my children will one day want to continue something that has by that time become a historic collection. Nevertheless the impulse to do a ‘spring clean’ comes to mind from time to time — which in essence would mean to sell. This should not be a mere offloading, as the release of these works of art and the proper handling of artistic reputations is a delicate business.’
You also support an ‘Artist in Residence’ programme: are there any cross-overs with the collection?
‘We do buy pieces from the artists who have been supported by the programme, but their work has to fit into the collection.
There are more overlaps with the temporary exhibitions, which we also house.’
You also let out artists’ studios.
‘Letting the ateliers is part of my professional life. I am in the lucky situation of being able to work across the arts sector — just recently I created a rehearsal space for rock bands.’
So there are a lot of intersections with the producers of contemporary art. This really does sound time-consuming, so how do you spend your spare time?
‘I spend a part of my professional life like this as well. For me it is important to talk with artists about their artistic process. This closeness, this connection, is the difference between collectors of contemporary art and Old Masters. Although I don’t know every artist whose work I have bought, this personal contact is an integral part of my collecting process.’