Culture

Discover art: the BMW Art Guide

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, providing cameo portraits of more public-access private collections than ever before.

By
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, 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 any tour of a 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 a 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, a book that 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, this guide is the perfect companion for the urban traveler or art lover on a quest for art and culture off the beaten tourist path.

When it was published in 2012, the BMW Art Guide by Independent Collectors was the first global guide to private art collections. It is now in its third edition. (Photo left: Ugo Rondinone, Where Do We Go from Here?, 1999, © Ugo Rondinone; courtesy Il Giardino dei Lauri; photo right: Céleste Boursier-Mougenot, From Here to Ear, 2009, courtesy Antoine de Galbert Collection, Paris, France)

When it was published in 2012, the BMW Art Guide by Independent Collectors was the first global guide to private art collections. It is now in its third edition. (Photo left: Ugo Rondinone, Where Do We Go from Here?, 1999, © Ugo Rondinone; courtesy Il Giardino dei Lauri; photo right: Céleste Boursier-Mougenot, From Here to Ear, 2009, courtesy Antoine de Galbert Collection, Paris, France)

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 BMW Art Guide now features more outstanding and original collections than ever before. It currently lists 236 private art collections at 167 locations worldwide, and provides a brief introduction to each collection, with a specific focus on certain cities: Miami, Paris, Berlin, Moscow and other hotspots with a particularly high artistic density and diversity. The 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 U.S., 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 interests or personal tastes of the collector. The knowledge-sharing and presentation of the curatorial programs are always idiosyncratic in style. On occasion, collections are limited to just a few artists, while others explore an artistic medium in all its different hues. With their new and evolving 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 learning aid on the subject.

The third edition of the BMW Art Guide by Independent Collectors is available online and from bookshops.

09/28/16