“We shall not forget Erich Marx”

News from 09/10/2020

The SPK, the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin and the Nationalgalerie mourn the loss of the great collector, who died yesterday at the age of 99

Portrait of a man in front of a painting
© Angelika Platen

The Stiftung Preussischer Kulturbesitz (Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation) and the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin (National Museums in Berlin) mourn the loss of the great collector Erich Marx, who died yesterday evening at the age of 99.

SPK President Hermann Parzinger was deeply moved: “Erich Marx was a great man, but a modest man. Everything that he did was infused with lively passion – as was his love of art and collecting. For us, however, he was not only an important collector, but also a patron who wanted Berlin to flourish as a city of art. Without him, there would be no Hamburger Bahnhof. The Nationalgalerie has worked with items loaned by him for more than twenty years, and this work has been on and about the twentieth century itself. In assembling his collection, Erich Marx repeatedly posed questions about that century. From the moment that he made a conscious decision to collect, he focused on a few artists whose works particularly fascinated him: Andy Warhol, Cy Twombly and Joseph Beuys, Anselm Kiefer, Robert Rauschenberg, Roy Liechtenstein, and a few others. These were artists who belonged to his generation, in whom, as he himself put it, he recognized ‘the experiences and fears of our time’ as a common element. And in limiting himself to these, his contemporaries, he created an outstanding collection that contains some of their most important works and, indeed, key works. Each of them is represented by an impressive group of works that allows us to follow and understand his development as an artist.

This was another part of his concept, which was properly thought out from the start: his collection should meet the standards required of a museum. We shall never forget the magnificent gesture that he made five years ago, when as the culmination of his life’s work, he acquired the fascinating environment "Das Kapital Raum 1970‒1977" by Joseph Beuys and presented it to the Nationalgalerie on permanent loan. For him, it was a ‘final highlight’. This work and his collection will find a new home, in a new context, in the future Museum of the 20th Century at the Kulturforum. We shall not forget Erich Marx.”

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