Private/Corporate V is the fifth in a series of exhibitions, in which the Mercedes-Benz Art Collection presents itself in a dialogue with an international private collection once a year. The exhibition planned in collaboration with the Lafrenz collection comprises over 60 paintings, objects, sculptures and video works by some 20 artists, dating from the 1960s to the present day. They invite viewers to experience a dialogue between American Minimal Art and aspects of a specific German Minimalism.
The Lafrenz Collection concentrates on aspects of Minimal and Concept Art, Post Painterly Abstraction, Land Art and Arte Povera. It was established in the 1970s by Dr. Klaus and Rosemarie Lafrenz, and its works lay behind the foundation of the Neues Museum Weserburg Bremen, which is seen as the prototype of the collector’s museum. At the same time, part of the Lafrenz Collection is on permanent loan to the Kunsthalle in Hamburg, and has also been shown in various national and international exhibition contexts.
As the oldest of the four children, Björn Lafrenz took over continuing and presenting the collection as a private commitment, after his father’s early death. So among other things he is still pursuing the original idea of not concentrating on work series, but on placing individual works by different artists, from the 1960s to the present day—for example Judd, Ryman, Serra, LeWitt, Marden, Mangold, Novros—in new dialogue situations. His background is architecture, so he is especially interested in spatial interplay. In the mean time, work by contemporary artists, represented here by Johannes Esper, Frank Gerritz and Liam Gillick, have joined what are mainly American classics—but also German work such as that of Albers, Erben, Palermo and Ruthenbek.
For our Private/Corporate V exhibition, Björn Lafrenz has looked at the range of his parents’ collection and shifted the classical American protagonists of Minimal Art into the center of attention—Judd, LeWitt, Marden, Novros, Ryman, McCracken—and added an extra dimension, both stringently, but systematically and homogeneously, by juxtaposing them with positions like those of Palermo, Gerritz and Esper.
Against this background, the approach of the Mercedes-Benz Art Collection, represented in the works from the Collection chosen for this show, takes on a much clearer outline: 1. Taking a new look at Minimal Art from the perspective of stubborn peripheral positions (Posenenske and Schene stand for this, but also Darboven and Walther), and 2. examining it from the point of view of destruction, of refractions and ‘pollutions’ to assess its substance and load-bearing capabilities (e.g. Jonathan Monk, Tom Sachs, Katja Strunz).
From the Lafrenz Collection: Josef Albers (D), Carl Andre (USA), Alan Charlton (UK), Johannes Esper (D), Frank Gerritz (D), Liam Gillick (GB), Donald Judd (USA), Sol LeWitt (USA), Brice Marden (USA), John McCracken (USA), David Novros (USA), Blinky Palermo (D), Robert Ryman (USA).