As the BMW Art Guide by Independent Collectors enters round three, it delivers a succinct overview of the broad and fascinating field of contemporary art and provides cameo portraits of more public-access private collections than ever before.
- Robert Grunenberg
It all started over eight years ago when the Independent Collectors initiative decided to set up the first international online network for private collectors of contemporary art. Surprising though it may seem, there was nothing like it at the time. Private collections have the reputation of being hidden from public view behind hermetically sealed doors and as serving mainly for the edification of wealthy collectors or as monuments to their vanity. But this is pure prejudice. Many private collections are open to the public in extraordinary locations, put together with great attention to detail and offering visitors an experience at least as enriching as a tour of any conventional museum.
Many private collections are open to the public in extraordinary locations, put together with great attention to detail and offering visitors an experience at least as enriching as a tour of any conventional museum.
BMW and Independent Collectors established a partnership in 2009. Their first collaborative publication came about in 2012 in the form of the BMW Art Guide by Independent Collectors. This book was the first of its kind. Never before had anyone put together a publication listing all the private collections with public access worldwide. Compact, informative and written by some of the most influential figures in the world of art, the Art Guide is the perfect companion for the urban traveller or art lover on a quest for art and culture off the beaten tourist path.
With the extensive sphere of private collections constantly evolving – and new collectors joining the scene all the time – the recently published third edition of the Art Guide now features more outstanding and original collections than ever before. The Art Guide currently lists 236 private art collections at 167 locations worldwide. It provides a brief introduction to each collection, with a specific focus on certain cities: Miami, Paris, Berlin, Moscow – hotspots with particularly high artistic density and diversity. The Art Guide provides a cross-section and snapshot of the diverse landscape of private museums and gives the reader an alternative view of the broad spectrum of contemporary art. In the USA, for example, in addition to large collections such as Rubell or De la Cruz, the guide also highlights the excellent Girls’ Club in Florida, a private collection devoted exclusively to the work of female artists. In Doha, Qatar, on the other hand, there is the Mathaf Museum for Modern Arabic Art, and in Tokyo the Takahashi Collection of Japanese contemporary art.
Private collections differ in character from public museums. Many of them display the specific interest or personal taste of the collector. The knowledge-sharing and presentation of the curatorial programme are always idiosyncratic in style. On occasions, the collection is limited to a few artists, while others explore an artistic medium in all its different hues. With their new programmatic concepts, many collections have made art history – yet another reason, then, why the BMW Art Guide by Independent Collectors is not just a practical art companion, but also a valuable aid to learning on the subject.
The third edition of the BMW Art Guide by Independent Collectors is available online and from bookshops.