NEW YORK—The Berlin museum Hamburger Bahnhof announced this month that German collector Friedrich Christian Flick has donated 166 important contemporary artworks, largely created in the last four decades, to the museum.
More than 40 artists are represented in the gift, including Vito Aconci, Douglas Gordon, Martin Kippenberger, Gordon Matta-Clark, Nam June Paik, Jason Rhoades and Pipilotti Rist, among many others.
The donation, which has “no particular conditions attached,” the museum says, includes one of Bruce Nauman’s central works, the corridor sculpture Room with My Soul Let Out, Room That Does Not Care, 1984; Paul McCarthy’s Saloon Theater, 1995-99; early Thomas Ruff photos of interiors; and a large-format piece jointly produced by Isa Genzken and Wolfgang Tillmans, as well as the Tillmans installation Truth Study Center.
In presenting the trove Flick stated, “Whenever I’ve developed an interest in a particular artist and decided that I like his or her art, I’ve always tried to collect the artist’s work in depth and put together blocks of works. I wanted this donation, too, to reflect that approach.”
Noting the past several years of collaboration with Flick, Klaus-Dieter Lehmann, president of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation, called the donation “an extraordinary expression of common understanding on how a collection might be created.”
In 2003 Flick and the museum entered into a contract, initially for seven years, under which several exhibitions based on the collection were to be mounted. Flick spent an estimated €8 million ($8.8 million) to convert an adjacent warehouse, the Reickhallen, into extended exhibition space for the first major show in 2004-05.
The exhibit sparked considerable controversy owing to the well-known source of Flick’s fortune; the collector’s grandfather Friedrich Flick, an arms manufacturer and steel magnate, had been a supplier to the Nazi regime. At the Nuremburg Trials in 1947 he was sentenced to seven years in prison for his exploitation of slave labor and confiscation of Jewish property during World War II.