A fantastic collection full of wonderful works of art - Art Nouveau in Wiesbaden (Part 1)
"Since 29 June 2019, Wiesbaden has been an indispensable part of the Art Nouveau scene." Dr Peter Forster welcomes us at the Hessian State Museum of Art and Nature Wiesbaden with a laugh - and not without pride. It was thanks to a stroke of good luck that the museum was given Europe’s largest and most important private collection of Jugendstil and Art Nouveau by Ferdinand Wolfgang Neess.
"Something like this happens once in the history of a museum. What’s more, it was also the largest donation the Museum Wiesbaden has ever received," says Dr Peter Forster, curator of the Art Nouveau exhibition, with excitement. The Museum Wiesbaden has been home to Ferdinand Wolfgang Neess’ collection since 2019. The Art Nouveau enthusiast, who died in January 2020, collected over 500 objects during his lifetime and left them to Museum Wiesbaden in a unique donation. "Neess collected quality, so he paid for quality and made very deliberate purchases," Dr Forster tells us, looking at the astonishing collection. For its part, the Museum Wiesbaden has also achieved a great feat: "We created an 800m2 space in order to be able to show this collection all in one."
Taking over a collection from someone like Ferdinand Wolfgang Neess is also a piece of good luck in terms of curation. Dr Forster describes the donor as "very knowledgeable, but he also had a very good gut instinct. He knew exactly what belonged together, which artists harmonised with each other, what shouldn’t be left out, what was essential." Neess gave the museum complete curatorial freedom. "He told us, I'm handing this over, do with it what you think is right." However, the donor still had an indirect influence on the conception. "We were able to take over many groupings just as they were. There was already a lot of preliminary intellectual work there. That alone was a pretty good gift, and Neess knew it," Forster laughs. "But he was then also able to let go. I think that's something very great for a collector to overcome, to give something away during their lifetime. But in this case it was just right, because he was also able to accompany the process and in the end thought, this is how it works for me."
The exhibition was ready on Neess’s 90th birthday. That was the deal that the museum made with the collector, Forster explains. "We promised him that we would have the exhibition finished by his birthday, and in return Neess promised us that he would not sell anything from the collection elsewhere. The demand for it was great - originally the donation was to go to the Clemens Sels Museum in Neuss. But when, for various reasons, that didn't work out, countless interested parties came forward: "Everyone wanted something for themselves." But for Neess it was more important to keep his beloved collection all together. And now, luckily, we can admire it in Wiesbaden!
A fantastic collection full of wonderful works of art - Art Nouveau in Wiesbaden (Part 2)
Published on 19.01.2021
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