The Ludwig Museum was already conceived as a contemporary museum by its founding commission. Current positions of French, American and German art after 1945, which were bequeathed to the museum by Peter and Irene Ludwig on the occasion of its founding in 1992, formed the basic core of the collection. In addition to Pablo Picasso, Max Ernst, and Man Ray, the collection includes works by Jasper Johns, Willem de Kooning, Robert Rauschenberg, Christian Boltanski, Daniel Buren, Jean Dubuffet, Martial Raysse, Niki de Saint Phalle, Jean Tinguely, François Morellet, Patrick Raynaud, and Bernar Venet. Continuous additions to the collection, including donations, enrich this collection stock.
Visitors have the opportunity to get to know the diversity of the collection of about 300 objects in occasional changes of the permanent presentation. Classics from the groups “Nouveaux Réalistes,” “Fluxus,” “Concept Art,” and “Support/Surface” are among the most popular objects in the permanent collection, along with representatives of American Pop Art. They were pioneers for the development of the current art scene in France. There is much to discover: the familiar, which appears different and therefore surprising in unfamiliar contexts, and the new – the latest positions of the international art scene – made accessible. Through the five temporary exhibitions as well as interventions in the collection, the most diverse facets of the collection are accentuated or new perspectives and positions are prepared for the visitors through international collaborations.
The view to France
The museum’s focus on French art of the 20th century, primarily developments after 1945 up to current positions, is unique in Germany. The Ludwig Collection and changing exhibitions enliven each other through a mutually fruitful dialogue that creates and expands references. The Ludwig Museum not only works closely with numerous institutions and museums in France, often with the support of the French Embassy and the Association Française d’Action Artistique (AFAA), but also maintains close ties to American artists and institutions, to Southern Europe, but also to the Middle East, the United Emirates, and China. The intention is to show and promote internationally relevant positions in art. The aim is not only to present the well-known and established, but also to introduce new, unknown positions of high quality. The museum likes to set itself the goal of occasionally being a pioneer and thought leader in the dialogue of the German museum landscape.
Thematic focal points and artistic questions
Polyphony and contrasts characterize the spectrum of the collection at the Ludwig Museum. It shows sensual-painterly, historically-reflective up to downright expressive artistic attitudes, which are connected with intellectually-literary or conceptually determined art forms. Despite the deliberate concentration on the individual excellence of selected artists, over the years smaller and medium-sized ensembles of works have also come together, giving some outstanding artists greater space in the collection. One of the special collection blocks is therefore also the so-called “Edition MAT”, an artist’s edition of cooperating artists published by Daniel Spoerri and Karl Gerstner.