Independent Collectors

Olaf Schirm

Collectors who have a special bond with Berlin.

Photo of Olaf Schirm
Photo of Olaf Schirm

To celebrate another year of Gallery Weekend Berlin we speak to a selection of collectors who have a special bond with Berlin.

Focusing on the collecting scene of the city and the personal relationship between city and collector, we find out what makes this capital not just a special place for its artists and visitors, but for the collectors too.

Tell us about your connection to Berlin. How did it all begin?

I was born in Berlin but never had the chance to be part and contribute to the art scene up to 2006, when I finally moved here and began to collect local contemporary art. The collection started slowly with some paintings purchased from artists directly, then, as my network grew, I discovered exciting artworks in galleries and on the local art shows. Now my focus has expanded, the collection comprises paintings, prints, photography, installations, objects, video art, and mixed media.

What is the collecting scene like in Berlin?

I do not distinguish precisely among collectors, artists and gallerists. After a while I realised that artists are collectors because they exchange and keep artworks from other artists, gallerists are collectors with fascinating artworks although most of them are not aware of it or not willing to show this aspect. Being in Berlin for 10 years now I always read and hear the same few collector names with their own buildings, factories or spaces. It takes effort to learn about the numerous other collectors that have smaller collections equally as stunning focuses on specific art segments.

Your collection consists of mainly Berlin based artists – why is this important to you?

It is important for me because I am interested in the artwork and the artist, so I visit their studios and meet them frequently. Same with gallerists, curators and art lovers. I can’t imagine living in a village and being able to build up a contemporary collection. Of course I travel a lot because I buy nationally and internationally now, but still, most of the contacts I have are in here Berlin. A side effect of many talented artists in this town is that the female artist percentage in my collection is 51% at this moment, by chance.

ERWINA ZIOMKOWSKA, Slip, 2011. Courtesy the artist
ERWINA ZIOMKOWSKA, Slip, 2011. Courtesy the artist
KATRIN GÜNTHER, Heiliger Rasen, 2013
KATRIN GÜNTHER, Heiliger Rasen, 2013

The art scene has to change all the time, art is a process.


KRISTIAN EVJU, Dark-River IV, 2013
KRISTIAN EVJU, Dark-River IV, 2013
OLFGANG PETRICK, Melancholie, 2007-10
OLFGANG PETRICK, Melancholie, 2007-10

Do you normally work directly with artists or do you go through Berlin galleries?

I do both, but of course I buy from the gallery if the artist is represented. Surprisingly some very talented artists have no gallery and some do not want to be represented. It’s in these situations that I can help with direct purchases or other support. In the gallery scene I know which gallerists show art that I like and they keep me updated, with some of them also becoming friends of mine over time.

Since 2015 I now collect mostly Science Art. For this I get most of my information from specific science places all over town and from science press. Only a few spaces deal with this art form.

How have you seen the Berlin art scene change and where do you think it’s headed?

The art scene has to change all the time, art is a process. There is a gap between established positions and newcomers which leads to exaggerated pricing or invisibility of new works in somewhat clean spaces. I know everybody has to pay rent, me too. Too many newcomers are already exhibiting unfinished, unskilled works. Personally I would prefer to see less material, and more art. It is harder now to find the “pearls” if you only have a limited time per day for research.

Will you be attending Gallery Weekend Berlin this year? And if yes, do you have any tips for the collectors coming on where they should go?

Yes, I will be around for Gallery Weekend. As I am familiar with the galleries and their current shows, I do not have to visit them under crowded circumstances, but I will say hello to my friends and meet many colleagues there.

I will visit Galerie Gerken to see Kinki Texas, Janinebeangallery to see Dario Puggioni and the “I AMsterdam YOU BErlin” show, my friends at Eigenheim, dr.julius | ap, DAM, Galerie EIGEN+ART to see Carsten Nicolai, Gallery Martin Mertens to see Radu Belcin, and “Frohe Botschaft” group show in the Uferhallen to meet many young artists I know.

DARIO PUGGIONI, Scilla, 2014
DARIO PUGGIONI, Scilla, 2014

Berlin (52)

You are the Concept

Private sessions with IC founder and strategist Christian Kaspar Schwarm.

Julia Stoschek

Sergej Timofejev in conversation with Julia Stoschek: one of the most active and famous collectors of time-based art.

Boros Bunker #4

This former techno-club has been home to the private collection and residence of Christian and Karen Boros.

haubrok projects

Lollie Barr meets collector Axel Haubrok in Lichtenberg

Wurlitzer Berlin-Pied-à-Terre Collection

Gudrun and Bernd Wurlitzer have created a space where artworks sit comfortably alongside signs of everyday life


Geraldine Michalke provides one of the most dynamic sites for aesthetic exchanges in Berlin

The Feuerle Collection

Désiré Feuerle has turned a site of isolation and paranoia into a place infused with humanity, lightness and sensuality

Ingrid & Thomas Jochheim

The collector couple describes the discovery process, which has led them to around 700 artworks to date, as emotional

ARNDT Collection

Tiffany Wood and Matthias Arndt aim to collect works that create disturbance

PRIOR Art Space

Oliver Elst and Laura del Arco have built significant collections, both individually and together

Elke and Arno Morenz Collection

A collection about seven postwar avant-garde movements

Collection Night

A new twilight initiative takes places in Berlin to bring private collections together in a special programme.

Warhol and Works on Paper

Editions and works on paper from The Dirk Lehr Collection.

Art is a Window – Christian Kaspar Schwarm

Una Meistere in conversation in Berlin with IC founder Christian Kaspar Schwarm.

Dirk Lehr Collection

A look inside the Berlin-based collection that refuses to follow trends.

Yvonne Roeb

Inside the studio of the artist with the unusual collection.

Christian Kaspar Schwarm “Young Collections”

Inside the constantly growing and unconventional collection of the IC co-founder.

The Vague Space

The continuously contouring art collection from Independent Collectors’ co-founder.

Boros Bunker #3

A look inside the belly of Berlin's most known World War II Bunker.

Gudrun & Bernd Wurlitzer

On the occasion of the sixth edition of Berlin Art Week, Gudrun and Bernd Wurlitzer will be opening up their home and private collection to the public.

Gudrun & Bernd Wurlitzer 2017

After the German reunion Gudrun and Bernd Wurlitzer witnessed the gallery scene in Berlin change dramatically.

me Collectors Room – Picha/Pictures

"Picha/Pictures – Between Nairobi & Berlin" at Berlin's me Collectors Room features artworks by Berlin-based artists and children that live in Kibera, East Africa’s largest slum.

How to Be Unique

An exploration of the interlacing of textual, structural, and lingual elements and painting with a special emphasis on their material manifestations.

Kuhn Collection

Offering a bright perspective of young contemporary art.

Archivio Conz x KW

Archivio Conz presents “Pause: Broken Sounds/Remote Music. Prepared pianos from the Archivio Conz collection” at the KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin.

Haus N Collection & ROCCA Stiftung

Two collections joined forces to create a unique cultural experience in an abandoned car dealership in Kiel, Germany.

Kuhn Collection I

This exhibition is the first in a series in which Michael Kuhn and Alexandra Rockelmann share works from the Kuhn Collection on IC.

Recording Memories

Mimi Kolaneci shares parts of his collection

Haus N Collection & Wemhöner Collection

ach, die sind ja heute so unpolitisch

STUDIO BERLIN – Boros Foundation x Berghain

We are here with insight into the seductive new Berlin happening, STUDIO BERLIN, with an interview with Karen Boros and Juliet Kothe, Artistic Directors of the project.

me Collectors Room Berlin/Stiftung Olbricht

My Abstract World

Haupt Collection

Dreissig Silberlinge

Désiré Feuerle

Publicly accessible private collection in an old bunker.

Lapo Simeoni

Collectors who have a special bond with Berlin.

Timo Miettinen

Finnish collector talks about the impossibility of ignoring Berlin’s relevance in today’s art world.

Kai Bender

Collectors who have a special bond with Berlin.

From Sponsorship to Authorship

Creative workshops for brands who want to become great story-tellers.

Manfred Herrmann

The Berlin based tax consultant Manfred Herrmann and his wife art historian Burglind-Christin Schulze-Herrmann have been collecting contemporary art for the last 30 years.

me Collectors Room – Private Exposure

For the fifth time, the Olbricht Foundation has invited London Metropolitan University students from the ‘Curating the Contemporary’ Master’s program in collaboration with the Whitechapel Gallery, to curate and develop an exhibition with works from the extensive art collection of Thomas Olbricht.


From a very early age, Pétur Arason enjoyed visiting artists in their studios with his father. Today, Arason has built up his own collection spanning more than 1 200 works.

Cindy Sherman – Works from the Olbricht Collection

Arguably one of the most important photographers of the late 20th Century, Cindy Sherman is not just a master of disguise but also a master at captivating her audiences.

Gute Kunst? Wollen!

Born into a family of textile merchants that spans over four generations and a long tradition of passionate art collecting Thomas Rusche’s passion for collecting art started early, with his first purchase at the age of 14. Over the years that followed, his passion for collecting has grown into a vast accumulation of 17th century Old Masters, contemporary painting, and sculptures.

Frisch Collection

The Berlin based couple, Harald and Kornelia Frisch, have been collecting idiosyncratic painterly and sculptural positions from different artistic generations free from market-based aesthetics since the 1960s.

Slavs and Tatars: Friendship of Nations

An exhibition from the Berlin-based collector Christian Kaspar Schwarm, featuring work from the art collective, Slavs and Tatars.


Female Artists from the Olbricht Collection at me Collectors Room, Berlin.

Barbara Klemm: Photographs

A new exhibition from the Berlin collector Werner Driller.

I Have Nothing Against Women But…

A look inside the exhibition “I Have Nothing Against Women but Can’t You Ring at Another Person’s Door”

Collection Regard

En Passant

To the patrons of tomorrow

Laurie Rojas on the future of art patronage and how to nurture enthusiasm for good art, worldly sensibility, curiosity, and connoisseurship.

A Travel Companion to access private art

What started off as an ambitious task back in 2012 to gather a world-wide list of the most exciting art collections, resulted in unique book that would radically increase the accessibility of private art to the general public.

The Rediscovery of Wonder

»Good art is rarely simple, but it is hardly ever incomprehensible, « says Christian Kaspar Schwarm, IC founder and avid collector who has never lost his excitement for complexity.