Since 1948, North Rhine-Westphalia has been purchasing works by young artists to support them. Each year a committee headed by Dr. Schumacher is searching and selecting young artists from the region for new acquisitions (until 2017: Dr. Susanne Meyer-Büser, Art Collection NRW, Dr. Gail Kirkpatrick, Kunsthalle Münster and Dr. Marcel Schumacher).
Shortly after the founding of North Rhine-Westphalia and upon the proposal of Head of Division Dr. Mathias T. Engels, the ministry of culture purchased the first “art asset”, a watercolor painting by Karl Schwesig. At the end of the 1940s, it was decided that the works be made available to individual ministries and regional authorities to hang in their offices for representational purposes. Even today, a fourth of the collection serves this purpose. In the past, different curators and university professors have advised the ministry of culture in purchasing works. Since 2015, a committee of experts with alternating members makes decisions to purchase works. The artists should study or live in the region since several years.
Maria Engels showcased the collection at the Kornelimünster Abbey from 1976 until 2014, presenting here amongst others the winners of the “Förderpreis für Junge Kunst”, the advancement award for young artists. Since 2015, Dr. Marcel Schumacher has been conducting the collection, giving it a new profile. Annually changing presentations emphasize different focal points of the collection, enabling the artists to gain insight into their work.
The main purpose of purchasing the works lies in the support of young artists. The collection therefore reflects the different Zeitgeist and the changing artistic movements over the decades. The collection demonstrates that artists from North Rhine-Westphalia have not only shaped the region’s art scene but have also significantly influenced the international development of art since 1945. Sigmar Polke and Gerhard Richter both graduated from the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf as did Andreas Gursky and Thomas Ruff, to mention but a few. As the collection is getting younger every year, it not only allows for a review of the history of art over the past 70 years, but also gives insight into the lively art scene of present-day North Rhine-Westphalia.