Collecting with Great Sensitivity
It all began with Weishaupt’s connections to the Ulm School of Design (HfG). His father Max Weishaupt, founder of the business, established contact to the Ulm School in the early 1960s and commissioned the outstanding product designers Hans Gugelot and Hans Sukopp to work for his business, and later also the pioneering Swiss graphic designer Josef Müller-Brockmann. “Thus the Bauhaus and its clarity of design moved in with us,” Siegfried Weishaupt remembers. This also led to a special connection with Max Bill, founder director of the Ulm School. der HfG, and to his work as an artist.
Siegfried Weishaupt’s approach to art was greatly influenced by Josef Albers, who also taught in Ulm for a while. Over the following years, Weishaupt and his wife Jutta broadened out beyond geometrical and “concrete” art and became interested in American abstract expressionism (such as Rothko), then Rauschenberg, whose work was highly influential, and then Pop art and other contemporary movements in art.
Colour and Light Are the Coordinates
In the mid-1960s Siegfried Weishaupt purchased his first work of art, thereby laying the foundation stone for a passion for collecting that has now not only lasted more than five decades but also become more intense. It began with a fascination for geometrical and concrete art, and a love of clarity of form and bright colour is the foundation of the collection. At the same time these coordinates enable the collectors to experiment with new ideas.
Today the Siegfried and Jutta Weishaupt Collection with its many hundreds of works is one of the most significant private collections of European and American art since the 1960s. The opening of kunsthalle weishaupt in 2007 has made the collection accessible to the public, with varying selections of works.
THE FOCUS OF THE COLLECTION
Geometrical Concrete Art
With Max Bill as founder director, teachers like Josef Albers and Friedrich Vordemberge-Gildewart, and students like Almir Mavignier, the Ulm School of Design (1954–1968) enabled direct contact to renowned protagonists of concrete art.
The aim to express a scientifically founded exploration of colour and form in painting and sculpture led to a broad range of artistic approaches culminating in the phenomena of Op art.
Significant works by the artists mentioned above and a large number of works by further representatives of this movement form the backbone of the collection. Among them are works by Hans Arp, Ulrich Erben, Günter Fruhtrunk, Rupprecht Geiger, Camille Graeser, Auguste Herbin, Verena Loewensberg, Richard Paul Lohse, Bridget Riley, Victor Vasarely, and others.
ZERO and Its Circle
In 1958 Heinz Mack and Otto Piene founded the ZERO group in Düsseldorf, joined a short time later by Günther Uecker. The starting point was the idea of a zero state that art had reached after the Second World War and that now made a completely new start both possible and necessary. In particular materials and techniques provided new opportunities, whereby kinetics, light and the effects of colour played a major role.
Alongside representative works by the three main ZERO members and other German artists, the Collection includes works by renowned international artists such as Lucio Fontana, Piero Dorazio, Enrico Castellani and Piero Manzoni, Yves Klein, Jef Verheyen, Pol Bury, Jan J. Schoonhoven, Jesús Rafael Soto, Victor Vasarely, and many more.
American Art Since the 1950s
Art history was never the guide for Siegfried and Jutta Weishaupt’s collecting activities, and yet the Collection holds representative works from the most important American movements in post-war art.
Willem de Kooning is a significant exponent of abstract expressionism, while Mark Rothko, Morris Louis, Kenneth Noland, and Frank Stella stand for colour field and hard edge painting, and Donald Judd, Dan Flavin and Sol LeWitt for minimal art.
By purchasing a combine painting by Robert Rauschenberg in 1983, the Collection opened up to a degree of figuration, without which the colourful Pop art of Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein or Tom Wesselmann would be just as unlikely as more recent forms of expression in the works of Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat.
Since 2009 Keith Haring‘s Red Dog for Landois (1987) has been standing in front of the kunsthalle weishaupt, as an example of one part of the collection that it not so easily displayed inside, as a comprehensive 2012 exhibition entitled Sculptures and Reliefs very well illustrated.
Every movement or style represented in the collection also includes sculptures, with some big names like Jean Tinguely, John Chamberlain, Liam Gillick, Bernar Venet, Anthony Caro, Tony Cragg, Richard Serra, and more. While some small sculptures, such as an Alexander Calder mobile, can be regularly shown in a private context, many others are on display on the company premises and in buildings there. Monumental works are often made for exterior spaces, where they can be best appreciated.
Contemporary Positions Since the Turn of the Century
A specific focus makes for the general direction of the Collection, but openness and an interest in how art is developing today keep the Collection alive. The Collection thus also holds very contemporary works by younger artists, many of them already established names. These works address the themes of colour, contrast, clear lines and simple form.
On the one hand these themes are explored in painting, as in the work of Philippe Decrauzat and Stéphane Dafflon. On the other hand, new approaches to technique and material are also represented, and materials like varnish, aluminium, steel and fiberglass are increasingly used, as in the work of Gerold Miller and Vincent Szarek.
Outside of this thematic range, works like the perfect photorealist charcoal drawings of Robert Longo have their own very special fascination.