Photographic collectors Ann and Jürgen Wilde, from near Cologne, have decided to set up the Ann and Jürgen Wilde Foundation in the State of Bavaria and to transfer their entire photographic collection to Munich. The Foundation is to be affiliated to the Bavarian State Paintings Collections. Its high-quality works will provide an important addition to the photographic holdings in the Pinakothek der Moderne
The Wilde Collection is the only body of photographs of such a high standard from the early 20th century, started in the 1960s, which is still in private ownership in Germany today. The origin of the collection dates back to 1968 following the acquisition of Franz Rohs photographic estate, amassed by the important art and photographic historian of Munich. In the course of the next forty years, Ann and Jürgen Wilde assembled a collection comprising some ten thousand vintage prints and as many negatives, a vast archive of material documenting the photographic history of the 20th century and a specialist library of several thousand volumes. Through their gallery in Cologne (197285), the first of its kind in Germany to specialise in photography, the Wildes were active in supporting the re-discovery of avant-garde photography that had been banned by the National Socialists, as well as working to establish photography as an art form from 1945 onwards. In the 1970s, they created archives of works by Albert Renger-Patzsch and Karl Blossfeldt, two major photographers from the New Objectivity movement, which are unique in their extent and quality. In addition, Ann and Jürgen Wilde have made a name for themselves internationally as the editors of numerous monographs and as curators of many highly-regarded exhibitions.
The Collection includes: The Karl Blossfeldt (18651932) and Albert Renger-Patzsch (18971966) archives, acknowledged as being of national cultural importance, consisting of more than 4,000 vintage prints, more than 10,000 glass plates and a comprehensive archive of related material; the Ann and Jürgen Wilde Collection with groups of works by August Sander, Germaine Krull, Man Ray, André Kertesz, Florence Henri, Friedrich Seidenstücker, Bernd and Hilla Becher, Lee Friedlander, David Hockney and others, with c. 1,500 original prints; a specialist library with c. 8,000 volumes on the history of photography in the 20th century, including many first editions and rare publications, as well as archival material from the Wildes gallery and collection. Estimated overall value: c. 120 million.
With the Wilde Foundation, the Pinakothek der Moderne will be able to expand its collecting and exhibition activities considerably. Since its opening in 2002 photography has also been one of the focal points for collecting assignments at the Bavarian State Paintings Collections. However, due to the fact that the collection was started so late, acquisitions to date have been limited to contemporary photography from 1970 onwards, largely represented by the exceptional Siemens Fotosammlung. The Wilde Foundation provides a unique opportunity to expand holdings to include first-class complexes of works by outstanding photographers dating from up until the early 20th century.
The transfer of the Albert Renger-Patzsch and Karl Blossfeldt archives will also create a basis for establishing a research institute for the history of photography a first in the museum landscape in Germany to date. The extensive holdings of the Wilde Foundation which have been in private ownership up until now will, for the first time ever, become fully accessible to the public through exhibitions and to specialists for research purposes.
Thanks to the Wilde Foundation, the long-held wish to expand the holdings at the Pinakothek der Moderne to include an exceptional collection of classical photographic works from the early 20th century has become true, as has the wish to pay tribute to the outstanding role played by photography as the most important pictorial media of the past 100 years through exhibitions and publications. Due to its scope, its high artistic merits and considerable art-historical significance, the Wilde Foundation represents an extraordinary gain for Munich as a centre of the arts and a further stroke of luck, contributing to the art collections owned by the State of Bavaria and by the three Pinakothek museums in Munich in particular being admired throughout the world and acknowledged for their importance. The Bavarian State Paintings Collections are grateful and fortunate that the benefactors ultimately decided in favour of Munich as the future home of their unique collection and archives, despite the attention received from other interested parties, and that they will continue to work in an advisory capacity for the Foundation in the future.