From Early Modernism to Contemporary Art
The Mercedes-Benz Art Collection was founded with the purchase of a painting by Willi Baumeister and, since around 1980, has continued to expand with a concentrated commitment. The early interest of the Collection, which initially focused on paintings, was directed at artists from southern Germany, teachers and students from the Stuttgart Academy, such as, to name a few, Adolf Hölzel, Oskar Schlemmer, Jean Arp, Max Bill, and Willi Baumeister. Following in the wake of the Bauhaus, these artists all had in common an artistically motivated interest in an interdisciplinary dialogue between fine art, functional product design, architecture, and graphic design. The Mercedes-Benz Art Collection is still committed to this orientation towards exploratory artistic thinking today, a mode of thought that is also always concerned with people, their imagination and innovative power. In the mid-1980s, the spectrum of the Collection expanded to include European trends in abstraction, pop, light art, and sculpture. Since 2000, its focus has increasingly been on recent international tendencies in painting and object art, photography and media art.
With the systematic development of the Collection – until the year 2000 under the curatorship of Hans J. Baumgart, and until 2023 under the direction of Dr. Renate Wiehager – and its concentrated focus on content, the Mercedes-Benz Art Collection has developed a clear profile that is also grounded in art history. Since the beginning of its worldwide exhibition activities, the Collection’s further development has been closely followed by the international public. New acquisitions are presented in German and international museums, but also internally at our various company locations, in a series of thematic exhibitions that are often brought into dialogue with older holdings from the Collection.
Our Collecting Practice: Recent Art, Current Trends, and Diversity
The Mercedes-Benz Art Collection currently comprises around 3,000 works by approximately 800 artists. We feel an imperative to expand the Collection, as only a living collection that integrates and communicates current international developments in art can be recognized as an active means of cultural advancement. The new acquisitions are primarily within the spectrum of renowned international contemporary art, but also include outstanding works by young artists. By acquiring recent art – with examples from Africa, India, South America, Israel, and China – the Mercedes-Benz Art Collection contributes to a responsible-minded policy of support for young artists. The integration of such positions brings current trends within the fields of aesthetics, design, valuation, and lifestyle into the company as topics for discussion. At the same time, the Mercedes-Benz Art Collection is strongly committed to diversity, with a collecting practice consistently geared towards the promotion of international artists,, the diversity of cultures, orientations, and views, a broad spectrum of multimedia and socially-engaged art, and the further establishment of women in the context of the Collection.