R. Kenton Nelson, Charm, 2007, Olbricht Collection, © R. Kenton Nelson, Courtesy Galerie Michael Haas, Photo: Joachim Fliegner
Exhibition | 10.05.2008 EXTENDED UNTIL 17.01.2010

Go for it

Olbricht Collection (a sequel)
Thomas Olbricht is a committed and passionate collector of contemporary art. He has been associated with the Weserburg for many years, which has shown many of the works of art from his collection, and in 2001 the exhibition Ohne Zögern, die Sammlung Olbricht, Teil 2 received nationwide attention. With its circa 1,500 works by artists from throughout the world, the Olbricht Collection is meanwhile one of the most noted collections of contemporary art. Furthermore, the Essen-based physician and scientist likes to acquire art that falls out of the mainstream, focusing his interest on work by young artists, which makes up more than half of his collection. What makes the collection unique and in some respects provocative is its examination of the themes of the body, death, religion, and sexuality, as well as its interest in not only in the beauty of the human body, but also its vulnerability.

The works on display establish formal and thematic relationships that represent much more than ordinary stylistic or genre-related aspects ever could. The cross-references Thomas Olbricht creates are at the same time surprising and convincing. They reveal not only a personal spectrum, but are time and again reminiscent of relationships that are part of our cultural history and our collective pictorial memory.

While Go for it! presents only part of the Olbricht Collection, this high-quality selection is representative of how powerful and lasting certain pictures can be even in an age in which the swell of images may be popular but levels everything in its path, pictures that not only intrigue us and attract our attention but also spark associations and build bridges to current issues that are relevant beyond art.

 

What catches the viewer’s eye within the exhibition is the perfect reconstruction of a cabinet of curiosities. This compendium of older objects, which is singular for a collector of contemporary art, establishes motif- and content-related ties to the other works in the exhibition as well as to a range of themes that point beyond art as such. Indeed, the cabinet of curiosities embodies the prototype of today’s notion of the museum. Not yet separated according to categories, one finds specimens, crystals, anatomic models, measuring instruments, as well as exquisite works of art assembled together into a unique network of relationships. The purpose here is to represent the universal interrelationships between all things in terms of a Weltanschauung. “The cabinet of curiosities becomes an analog of humankind’s brain that successively retrieves the obliterated wisdom of paradise.” (Horst Bredekamp). Dealing with this particular theme within the framework of the Olbricht Collection in no way leads to descending into and wallowing in the past; rather, in addition to many surprising cross-references, it allows us to understand the present as something that has evolved out of history.

 

The more than one hundred works by a variety of young artists are being presented in Go for it! in such a way that they form a coherent exhibition alongside older works as well as the objects contained in the cabinet of curiosities.


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