In the new season, you will be showing exhibits from Bayer’s art collection in the Erholungshaus for the first time since 2008/09. What prompted you to do that?
We presented the Bayer Collection in the Martin-Gropius-Bau in Berlin in 2013 to mark Bayer’s 150th anniversary. That was an overwhelming success. It quickly led to requests to show highlights from the collection in Leverkusen again. And that is precisely what we are doing now to mark the 125th anniversary of the Leverkusen site.
Will the exhibition be as big as in Berlin?
We have far less space in the Erholungshaus but about one hundred works will be on show. Unlike the exhibition in Berlin, we will be including works from the start of the collection, which roughly corresponds with the establishment of the Leverkusen site. We did not want to disregard this local connection. One example is Max Liebermann's portrait of Carl Duisberg, which dates from this period. We will also be showing a selection of works from the Expressionist collection, the École de Paris, informal art and the contemporary art collection from the U.S.A. The really important works will therefore all be on show.
The collection includes works by Beckmann, Chagall, Picasso, Warhol, Richter, Kippenberger and many other artists. Where can they be seen when they are not in an exhibition?
The interesting thing about Bayer’s collection is that it is not always on show to the general public, but it is always present for employees and visitors. The aim was never to build up a corporate collection; it was always about art in the workplace. Many of the key works can be seen in our corporate headquarters. And employees can borrow works from the Artothek art library at our Leverkusen site for an unlimited period. There are always up to one thousand works to choose from.
The focus in 2017 will be on photography rather than painting.
That is correct. As part of the stART program there will be an exhibition of works by Mischa Kuball's class at the Academy for Media Arts Cologne. Another exhibition is dedicated to Achim Lippoth, an award-winning photographer from Cologne. His exhibition will be focusing on “storytelling”. And it has already been decided that there will be a further exhibition of photography at the start of the 2017/18 season.
Your role includes art education. What are you planning for that?
In the 2016/17 season we will be offering a vacation program from children aged between 10 and 14. Our theater educationist is working with an artist on an interdisciplinary project. That will result in a week-long program focusing on the arts. And evidently, we will be continuing our free three-hour Saturday workshops. We have three special offers for both children and young people in each half year. These range from felt to country art, from light art to working with soapstone. Incidentally, action painting is particularly popular ...
I can believe that.
In fact, all our Saturday programs are very popular and get booked out quickly. I am particularly pleased about that because access to the visual arts almost always comes from a hands-on approach. When children and young people do creative work themselves, it opens their eyes to the works of the “major” artists. Opening up access to art and enabling people to experience it is an elementary part of the visual arts at Bayer.