New York; Zurich
Maja Hoffmann—the granddaughter of industrialist Emanuel (Manno) Hoffmann and the daughter of Daria Hoffmann-Razumovsky and legendary pharmaceutical tycoon and naturalist Luc Hoffmann—started collecting art in the 1980s in New York alongside Swiss theater director Werner Düggelin. During that time, the two obtained works from downtown darlings like Julian Schnabel, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Francesco Clemente, Andy Warhol, and others. In 2012 W magazine described Hoffmann as “among the contemporary art world’s most influential patrons, though chances are you haven’t heard of her,” explaining that Hoffmann prefers to do behind-the-scenes work with artists and institutions. These institutions include the Palais de Tokyo in Paris, the Serpentine Galleries in London, and Human Rights Watch in New York.
In 2015 German publisher Steidl published a book on Hoffman’s extensive private collection. Hoffman has also been an executive producer of a number of documentary films exploring various artists in depth, including the films Marina Abramovic: The Artist Is Present, Bobby Fischer Against the World, Black White + Gray: A Portrait of Sam Wagstaff and Robert Mapplethorpe, and Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child.
In fall 2017, ARTnews spoke with Hoffmann as she completed a huge Selldorf architects-designed art center for her Luma Foundation in Arles, in the south of France. Hoffman told ARTnews of the center, which brings art together with environmental and social concerns, “Arles is a small town, but it has a big territory with the wetlands and a network with all the Mediterranean. The environment and culture [are] not so often mixed in a way that is interesting for people who do culture-only or environment-only.” Hoffman is also a major supporter of the Swiss Institute, an alternative space in New York. And she is on the board of the Schaulager, the Herzog & de Meuron–designed private arts center just outside Basel, Switzerland, established by her cousin Maja Oeri.