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The Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz, the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin and the Nationalgalerie Mourn Erich Marx


The Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz and the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin mourn the passing of the eminent collector Erich Marx, who died Wednesday evening at the age of 99.

SPK President Hermann Parzinger was moved by the news: “Erich Marx was a prominent yet modest man. A lively passion marked everything he did – including his love of art and collecting. To us, he was more than just an important collector; he was a true patron of the arts, who was also concerned with the well-being of Berlin as an art hub. Hamburger Bahnhof would not exist without him. The Nationalgalerie has been working with his loans for more than twenty years, pursuing themes of and about the 20th century. Erich Marx repeatedly raised questions about this past century through his collection. From the moment of his conscious decision to collect, he concentrated on just a few artists, whose works especially fascinated him: Andy Warhol, Cy Twombly, Joseph Beuys, Anselm Kiefer, Robert Rauschenberg, Roy Liechtenstein and a few others. They were artists who belonged to Marx’s generation, in whom ‒ as he phrased it ‒ he recognised “the experiences and fears of our times” as a connecting element. And by limiting the focus to his contemporaries, the artists just named, Marx created an outstanding collection made up of some of their most important works. Each artist is represented with impressive groups of works that illuminate their individual artistic development. This approach was part of Marx’s consistently implemented initial conception, with the aim of creating a collection that would meet the demands of a museum. Five years ago, in a crowning achievement to his life’s work, he magnanimously and unforgettably acquired the fascinating environment Das Kapital Raum 1970‒1977 by Joseph Beuys and presented it to the Nationalgalerie as a permanent loan. He called it a “final highlight”. This work and the Marx Collection will find their place in a new context in the future Museum of the 20th Century (Nationalgalerie20) at the Kulturforum. We will not forget Erich Marx.”

On behalf of the General Directorate of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Michael Eissenhauer and Christina Haak commented: “A great patron ‒ Erich Marx significantly shaped the history of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin and the rebuilding of the Nationalgalerie collection after the Second World War. Through his engagement and generosity, Marx made a decisive contribution to the Nationalgalerie in Hamburger Bahnhof and to opening the city of Berlin to international contemporary art. As a co-founder of the Verein der Freunde der Nationalgalerie, he passionately and enthusiastically supported the work of the Nationalgalerie and considerably expanded its scope of activities. We are deeply indebted to him and extend our sincere condolences to the family and descendants of Erich Marx.”

Gabriele Knapstein and Joachim Jäger expressed the following on behalf of the Nationalgalerie: “Through the death of Erich Marx, we have lost a long-time supporter and patron of the Nationalgalerie. His exceptional collection of contemporary art was first publicly displayed in 1982, in the upper hall of the Neue Nationalgalerie. Hamburger Bahnhof was converted into a museum for contemporary art to give this Berlin collection a permanent venue. The museum opened in 1996 with the Marx Collection and works from the Nationalgalerie. In recent years, Erich Marx again played a major role in the creation of a new building for the Nationalgalerie, the Museum für die Kunst des 20. Jahrhunderts (Museum for 20th Century Art) at the Kulturforum. He visited our museums often and was pleased about the large number of visitors, especially those of the younger generation, who have the chance to experience works from his collection here. It was an honour for us to be able to share with him his joy in art and its appreciation. We have lost a great friend of art.”