Global Circus

Interview with collector & architect Gudrun Wurlitzer on art, travel, and digitization


Where About Now: You're an architect and collector. Both have to do with fixed physical places – built structures that serve as homes for art. What role does being mobile and travelling play for you?

Gudrun Wurlitzer: Except for holidays, I never travel just for fun. There is always a professional or art-related reason behind my travels.

WAN: How do you plan your travels? Does the destination come before the art event or vice versa?

GW: I get many invitations to events all over the world. The temptation to travel is high, and I therefore choose my trips carefully.

WAN: We have had some gaps in our communication because you were travelling recently in Paris and Cologne. What were you doing in each of these cities?

GW: I went to Paris to attend the opening of a group show at Fondation Cartier where an artist we collect, Raphaela Vogel, participated. Like all my trips, this was a short one, but packed with many impressions. In addition to the preview at Fondation Cartier, I went to Fondation Louis Vuitton, which I had never visited before, and stumbled immediately over a fantastic work by Isa Genzken, the model for which I had recently seen at Galerie Buchholz in Berlin. And finally I went for a sneak peek to Chanel to see the installation of Gregor Hildebrandt, whom I also collect. Whenever I am in Paris I visit the museum Palais de Tokyo and the restaurant in the same building. This time it was unfortunately closed, but through the entrance door I could see a work of art by Julius von Bismarck.

Installation by Raphaela Vogel at Fondation Cartier, Paris
Rose by Isa Genzken at Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris

I went to Cologne – of course – for the preview of Art Cologne which is one of the oldest contemporary art fairs in the world. I was fascinated by this banister at Cologne town hall where I went for the ceremony of the Art Cologne Preis. I love this city. First of all, because I lived there in the 1980s and participated in the art scene there the time; and second, because my 26 year old son lives there.

Banister Cologne town hall

WAN: Paris is one of the most visited cities in the world and one of the leading centres for art, fashion, gastronomy, and culture, while Cologne is a much smaller city and had its peak as a place of art in the 80s. Do you have any tips on how to approach different city sizes and art demographics when travelling?

GW: My approach is always through people I know - so it’s not a matter of the size of a city. I feel lost in a small town when I don’t know anybody but feel cosy in whatever big city.

I have the feeling that people involved in art are similar all over the world. There is a magic connection amongst us all.

WAN: Do you buy art for your collection when abroad as well?

GW: Yes, at art fairs. Strange enough, often from the galleries that are located in my neighborhood in Berlin.

WAN: Can you say that art functions similarly to travel photography for you? Does art serve as memories of certain places and experiences?

I must say that I see the same artworks in different places all around the world. It’s a global circus. Like with fashion. You have the same brands and pieces in any big city. Globalisation has done perfect work also in this issue. So my memories of certain places are more connected to architecture.

WAN: The art world is global, whether you buy international artists or they are exhibited. Have you ever thought about the distances and routes the artworks cover?

GW: There should be CO2 footprint notes attached to any of these artworks, included in a blockchain. I would not want to see a show with the most contaminated ones...

Gregor Hildebrandt, Chanel, Paris

WAN: In a way, you can assume similar “art travel” conditions at your newly founded digital platform – Artcrater – where collectors
can sell and buy artworks. Would you like to tell us more about it?

GW: I founded to give collectors an easy opportunity to sell artworks once in a while. It helps them get liquidity for buying new art. Being so close to other collectors I saw the need for it.“If I can’t sell anything I don’t buy anymore,” is an often heard sentence. Mainly because it has become a risky adventure to sell art at an auction. 40% of the artworks are not sold and are considered “burnt” which everybody can trace. This means a loss of value to the artwork. On Artcrater there is no such risk. It’s all discrete within a members network and nobody can see if a work has been sold or just withdrawn.

As a side effect, collectors don’t need to travel so much to artfairs if they can buy excellent art online. And the artwork only travels once it’s sold.

WAN: Are there any upcoming art events that you will be travelling to, where one could get the chance to learn more about Artcrater in person?

GW: I will stay in Berlin this week for the magnificent Gallery Weekend, during which we have an exhibition in our Berlin showroom. For the exhibit, we combine positions from our collection with works by artists from my artist platform, which exists parallel to Artcrater.

My next trips are headed to Venice Biennale and to Art Basel. But let’s see what comes in between!

Interview by WAN

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