Around 1989, Mercedes-Benz acquired a group of eleven large sculptures for their site in Stuttgart-Untertürkheim, and for the public areas at their former Stuttgart-Möhringen headquarters. They included key works by Walter De Maria, Norbert Kricke, Max Bill, Heinz Mack and Klaus Staudt. This was the start of a collection of large sculptures that now includes about 30 works – some of them commissioned – that are associated not just with their various locations but, above all, with the company’s identity.
Sculptures in Berlin
From 1995 to 2002, during development of the Potsdamer Platz, eight international artists were selected. One existing sculpture was purchased from them, or one site-related sculpture commissioned: For a long time, the sculptures by Keith Haring, Robert Rauschenberg, Mark di Suvero, Nam June Paik, Jean Tinguely, François Morellet, Frank Stella and Auke de Vries brought a much-noticed urban accent to Berlin’s city center. Due to the divestment of the area in 2008 and the conversion of the space through new tenants, Mercedes-Benz Art Collection had to temporary store some sculptures or had to transfer them to other sites.
From closer up, Keith Haring’s Boxers still salute both arrivals and people who are traveling by: the figures’ sporting yet aggressive gestures could also be read as an embrace. In 2018, the collection commissioned a full cleansing and restauration of the sculpture, which brought back its original colorfulness. Not far, in the pool by the Musical Theater Mark di Suvero’s Galileo creates a highly individual accent through its monumental size and expansive energy.
Sculptures in Stuttgart
The nine large sculptures for our corporate group’s former headquarters in Stuttgart-Möhringen, designed in the mid-1980s, are on the whole more strongly committed to a constructive and minimalist approach. Here, too, a mingling nature and technology is a dominant theme. Walter De Maria’s white stones, taken from five continents constitute a compressed mass of geohistory; the metal sculptures by George Rickey and Norbert Kricke illustrate the character of time and movement as a natural medium of our existence; the great ‘Piazza’ was designed by Max Bill in dialogue with the architects of the Möhringen groups office site (the Düsseldorf architects BHLM, Beucker, Haider, Langhammer and Maschlanka).
Sculptures in Stuttgart-Untertürkheim
Ten thousand employees walk past Bernhard Heiliger’s large patinated iron sculpture Tag und Nacht [Day and Night] every day. It was positioned outside the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Untertürkheim (Stuttgart) in 1983. Since then millions of visitors from all over the world have strolled around the artwork and into the Mercedes-Benz Museum at the former location. The sculpture opens out like an organic inventory of a geometrical and technical formal language, providing an architecturally highly varied factory site with an artistically defined center and a face that is powerful in its aesthetic impact. Natural and narrative associations are also central to the monumental bronze sculpture Taurus (Early Forms) by Tony Cragg, which brings together the molecular and geological basic elements in the form of a wreath-like body. The granite sculpture by Ulrich Rückriem appears to have grown there by itself, like a tree in its natural Environment. 2018, two more works were added to the ensemble: Frank Stella’s dynamic sculpture and the geometric, ring-shaped interlocking steel elements by Nigel Halls Big River, which together combine the high, vertical building structure of the new Chairmen’s building in Untertürkheim with the horizontal movements of the people and cars on the street.
Sculptures around the Mercedes-Benz world Stuttgart
In front of the gates of the factory site in Untertürkheim and in close proximity to the Mercedes-Benz Museum, which opened in 2005, the 42 and 32 meter high column sculptures by Heinz Mack and Max Bill shape the urban field. These sculptures were the first of eight works, part of a concept developed specifically for this site. Franz Erhard Walther’s wall text piece Wortfeld [Word Field], was commissioned for the entrance area of the museum, and was designed by the UN studio van berkel & bos in Amsterdam. As one enters the museum, it is succeeded by Max Bill’s large relief combination and by one of his Möbius strip sculptures, which are followed in turn by a monumental panorama photography by Walter Niedermayr and by the murals by Jan van der Ploeg and Stéphane Dafflon.
Sculptures in Sindelfingen
Since the mid-1990s, large works have been acquired for the extensive Mercedes-Benz factory site in Sindelfingen near Stuttgart, where many vehicle series are assembled. Situated in multiple locations, these artworks provide aesthetic foci for this open architectural structure aesthetically in various places. The airy and vigorous three-dimensional work by Norbert Kricke stands in the open air like a natural monument. Finally, there is Gerold Miller’s mural Plan 3 for the Center of Excellence (formerly Maybach), which seems to bring the Mercedes-Benz Art Collection’s early stages and history into the 21st century with its articulation of the key abstract tendencies within Modernism. Julian Schnabel’s bronze sculpture Queequeq, from 2010, takes its name from the harpooner character in Herman Melville’s novel “Moby Dick” (1854). The sculpture displays the tail fluke of the legendary white whale – standing on its head, as it were.