Arte Povera

In the 1960s, Arte Povera in Italy constituted one of the most significant 20th century art movements. Its protagonists included the artists Alighiero Boetti, Luciano Fabro, Jannis Kounellis, Pino Pascali, Giulio Paolini and Emilio Prini, who created poetic works using humble materials. With their images, objects, installations and performances, they subtly criticized the increasing application of technology in the environment and the economization of culture. The term Arte Povera was coined by the art historian Germano Celant, who, in September 1967, mounted the eponymous exhibition with these artists in Genoa. The movement, however, included far more artists than those represented in the show.

The Sammlung Goetz has one of the most comprehensive collections of Arte Povera, with more than 150 works. These include key pieces such as Torsione (1968) by Giovanni Anselmo; Ping Pong (1966) and Mappa (1988) by Alighiero Boetti; Untitled, number paintings, 1959 and 1961 by Jannis Kounellis; Orchestra of Rags (1968) and The Etruscans (1976) by Michelangelo Pistoletto; Igloo (1984/1992) by Mario Merz, and many others. Wishing to grow her collection, Ingvild Goetz – accompanied by the curator Christiane Meyer-Stoll and the art dealer Cordula von Keller –  traveled through Italy in the early 1990s to visit the museums, artists and private collectors who were ready to sell their Arte Povera works. The Sammlung Goetz includes not only Arte Povera paintings, sculptures and installations, but also large collections of black-and-white photographs by Claudio Abate, Giorgio Colombo and Paolo Mussat Sartor, which document the performances of movement’s artists.

Despite the fragility of the objects, the collection has been frequently exhibited and documented in accompanying publications. Such exhibitions include the European traveling exhibition Arte Povera. Works and Documents from Sammlung Goetz 1958 to the present (1997-2000); Arte Povera. The Great Awakening (2012/13) at the Kunstmuseum Basel; and, most recently, Arte Povera. Seen by Ingvild Goetz (2017) at Hauser & Wirth, New York.

Italian art between the 1950s and 1980s

Ingvild Goetz’s profound interest in Arte Povera laid the foundation for the exploration of other trends and movements in Italian art as additional foci of the collection. During her travels in Italy, the collector became familiar with artistic positions beyond the concept of Arte Povera and which radically questioned the traditional panel painting. Goetz was particularly interested in artists active between the 1950s and the 1980s who experimented with unusual materials, engaged in collaborative artistic strategies and explored new visual concepts by incorporating real space.

Guided by his concetti spaziali, Lucio Fontana was the first artist who dared to cut into the canvas and to include the real, surrounding space in his paintings. As early as the late 1940s, Fontana began to perforate his painting grounds and, beginning in the 1950s, to embellish his works with pieces of colored glass. Inspired by this expansion of the concept of painting, Dadamaino (Eduarda Maino) shortly thereafter developed her Volumi series, in which she cut oval shapes out of the canvas. Salvatore Scarpitta stretched cloth bandages over the canvas stretcher or frame, and Agostino Bonalumi created geometric shapes out of wood and foam, which were visible as protrusions on the surface of his paintings. Paolo Scheggi created depth by arranging three perforated canvases one behind the other, and Enrico Castellani achieved a similar effect by hammering nails at different depths into the painting’s ground and then stretching the canvas over this. With his Schermi Fabio Mauri constructed three-dimensional monochrome image-objects that resembled screens. Carla Accardi experimented early on with Sicofoil, a transparent plastic film on which she painted arabesque lines.

The late 1960s and early 1970s saw the development of new conceptual trends in Italian art that experimented with photography. The medium not only served to document artistic actions, but it also became a form of manipulation used to subvert conventional visual language. For example, Giorgio Ciam, a representative of body art, used photography in his six-part work Tentativo di arricchiere la personalità di Ciam (1972) as a way of transforming his own appearance.

The works from this area of the collection were presented in the exhibition Tutto. Perspectives on Italian Art, a collaborative project between the Museion in Bolzano and the Sammlung Goetz in Munich. The presentation in Munich was modified to include the discipline of Italian design, with objects from Die Neue Sammlung – The Design Museum. Both exhibitions were accompanied by an extensive catalogue and a brochure on design.


Established after the Second World War, the Japanese artist group Gutai developed into one of the 20th century’s most innovative collectives. Its founding father was the abstract painter Jiro Yoshihara; born in Osaka in 1905, he was one of the most influential personalities in Japan and inspired many young painters. In 1954 conversations between artists and students led to the emergence of the group “Gutai”. Japanese for “concrete, spontaneous, direct”. Although links to Jackson Pollock’s action painting and informal painting in France are evident, the group developed largely in isolation from Western influences and sought creative power in the original quality of materials. In their works, the members experimented with the variability and volatility of earth, mud, water, wind, fire, smoke and sunlight. A proximity to nature is also evident in the collective’s first presentation in July 1955, which took place in a pine grove in Ashiya. The exhibition was not only groundbreaking thanks to its outdoor venue, but also because numerous actions and works included viewer participation. The most important point of reference nevertheless remained the engagement with painting.

That same year, the first issue of Gutai magazine was published; it was published regularly until 1965 and reported on the works and activities of the group members. The first three issues included summaries in English and were also distributed abroad. After the death of Jiro Yoshihara, the group dissolved, although former members continued to develop their work independently.

In Europe and North America, the Gutai group initially faded into oblivion. An extensive exhibition in 1991 at the Mathildenhöhe Museum in Darmstadt was inconsequential at the time. The group’s rediscovery was first celebrated with Daniel Birnbaum’s presentation at the 2009 Biennale. Other well-known international exhibitions followed, such as Gutai: Splendid Playground at the Guggenheim Museum in New York in 2013.

Ingvild Goetz also discovered the Japanese Gutai group as a new collection focus relatively late, although the group shares asignificant aesthetic and contextual affinity with the artists of Arte Povera, another focus in the Sammlung Goetz. The works of the Gutai group are now in great demand on the art market. Nevertheless, the collector was able to acquire a considerable collection of paintings by artists such as Kumiko Imanaka, Takesada Matsutani, Minoru Onoda, Shozo Shimamoto, Motonao Takasaki and Chiyu Uemae, with a concentration of pieces from the 1960s. They complement the focus of the painting collection and show the artistic exploration of this subject from a different perspective.

Young British Artists

In the late 1980s, London became the hotspot of the art scene. The starting point was Goldsmith College, where the British conceptual artist and teacher Michael Craig-Martin taught. He had gathered a group of young students who were well networked in the prevailing cultural scenes, were aware of current international art events and confident enough to present their works in a manner that would attract public attention. Among these individuals was Damien Hirst, who, as a 22-year-old art student, organized the exhibition Freeze with works by himself and other students in a dilapidated harbor building in London’s Docklands. The group show, which was later celebrated as the birth of Young British Artists, was initially not well received by the public. One of its few visitors was the advertising mogul Charles Saatchi, who subsequently began to avidly collect the works of young British artists and to exhibit them under the title Young British Artists in the 1990s. The movement’s definitive international breakthrough came in 1997 with the exhibition Sensation at the Royal Academy in London; the show also made stops in Berlin and New York.

Ingvild Goetz began collecting Young British Artists works in the mid-1990s. However, it was not the attention-grabbing works of Damien Hirst or Jake & Dinos Chapman that found their way into her collection, but primarily those by artists with a socially critical approach and who explored questions of gender and identity. Collection highlights include the installation The Smoking Room (1997) - a room wallpapered with newsprint from yellow press newspapers and that had turned yellow from cigarette smoke - and the dragon sculpture Drag-On (2003) composed of filter cigarettes by Sarah Lucas; All The Loving (1997) by Tracey Emin, a box covered with fabric and embroidered letters and filled with the artist’s underwear; and the installation Home (1999) made of electrified household items by Mona Hatoum, whose extensive work 2011/12 was also presented in a solo exhibition at the Sammlung Goetz.

With the 1997 exhibition Art from the UK, the Sammlung Goetz presented works by Young British Artists for the first time; artists represented in the show were Angela Bulloch, Willie Doherty, Tracey Emin, Douglas Gordon, Mona Hatoum, Abigail Lane, Sarah Lucas, Sam Taylor-Johnson and Rachel Whiteread. In 1998, works by young British and American artists from the Sammlung Goetz were presented in dialogue in the exhibition Emotion at Deichtorhallen in Hamburg. The title ironically refers to the sensationalist exhibition titles of the shows Brilliant and Sensations, with which the Young British Artists were celebrated as the rebirth of “Cool Britannia.”

Individual positions of international artists

In addition to central movements and groupings of 20th century international art, the focus of Ingvild Goetz’s collecting activities has included various individual artistic positions and the continuous expansion of these collections through further purchases over the years. These individual positions include the works of Pawel Althamer, Rodney Graham, Mona Hatoum, Roni Horn, Ulrike Ottinger, Thomas Schütte, Cindy Sherman and Rosemarie Trockel, all of whom have had extensive solo exhibitions at the Sammlung Goetz. The work of these artists was collected in nearly their entire artistic breadth. Collection highlights include Bródno People (2010), a ragged-looking, life-size group of figures by Pawel Althamer, with which the Polish artist paid tribute e to his neighbors from the prefabricated Bródno housing estate near Warsaw, and the monumental two-part photo light box Allegory of Folly: Study for an Equestrian Monument in the Form of a Wind Vane (2005) by Rodney Graham, in which the Canadian artist is depicted sitting backwards astride a horse in the pose of a scholar. Also included are the black and white photographs from Cindy Sherman's iconic series Untitled Filmstills (1977-1980), in which the American artist embodies stereotypical female characters from fictional film scenes, and Hot Spot III (2009), a wire globe by Mona Hatoum, on which the Palestinian-British artist drew the outlines of the continents in red neon light. Other highlights include the conceptual 100-part photo series You Are the Weather by the American artist Roni Horn, executed between 1994 and 1996, and Berlin Trilogie by Ulrike Ottinger from 1979, which includes the films Bildnis einer Trinkerin, Freak Orlando and Dorian Gray im Spiegel der Boulevardpresse, as well as the installation Balaklava Box-Uniqum (1986-1990), a display case that contains knitted hats embellished with logos and political symbols by Rosemarie Trockel. Another central work is Thomas Schütte’s monumental sculpture Stahlfrau No. 12 (2003), which is located in the garden in front of the Sammlung Goetz exhibition building and has since become a landmark of the institution.

A striking aspect of the Sammlung Goetz is the number of female artists represented in the collection. Although Ingvild Goetz does not collect art based on a feminist perspective or agenda, works by women constitute a third of the entire collection. To mark the 25th anniversary of the Sammlung Goetz, works by these artists were presented in a cross-generational dialogue in the three-part exhibition Generations. Part 1, 2 and 3.


The five-part CREMASTER cycle is the most renowned work of the American artist Matthew Barney. These are five non-chronologically produced films in which the artist explores historical events, myths, legends and personal memories. Barney began working on the monumental film project, which is accompanied by sculptures, photographs and drawings, in 1994. Barney not only wrote the script and directed the films, but also was a main actor in each.

Although each film is an independent work of art, together the films constitute a self-contained system, in which Barney explores the processes of biological and physiological formation. The cycle’s title refers to the Latin term for the muscle that lowers and raises the testis, the musculus cremaster, which causes the unintentional contraction of the testis as a result of external stimuli.

The collector Ingvild Goetz, who first encountered Matthew Barney’s work at documenta IX in 1992, accompanied the creation of the CREMASTER cycle through her early acquisition of it. In the production of CREMASTER 5, the third part of the cycle, she was involved in filming several scenes in New York.

The Sammlung Goetz is one of four collections worldwide that owns of all five CREMASTER films and the corresponding showcases with the objects contained therein. Following a group exhibition that included works by Barney in 1996/97, the Sammlung Goetz presented the complete CREMASTER cycle in a solo exhibition in its own museum space in 2007/08.


Prints by Fred Sandback

The American artist Fred Sandback is one of the most important representatives of Minimal Art. He became known with his expansive sculptures of tautly stretched string and yarn, which resemble three-dimensional drawings. He developed an interest in printmaking in the early 1970s. Because of the ease of the technique, he first explored silk-screening, creating bi-colored prints. The strong, well-defined lines in these corresponded with the drawings and objects Sandback created during the same period; for example, he used black rubber bands for his sculptures and drew in black felt-tip pen.

In 1975, through his contact with Karl Imhof in Munich, Sandback was introduced to classical printing techniques and expanded his repertoire. Initially, he created small-format etchings as trial prints; Sandback was so excited by the results, however, that he soon ventured to larger formats. The softer, slightly frayed lines in these reflect to the development of his sculptural work; Sandback had discovered a new medium for his sculptures: dyed acrylic wool.

Sandback experimented with various printing techniques. Thus, his oeuvre includes silkscreens, etchings, lithographs, aquatints, linoleum cuts and woodcuts, as well as works of inverse lithography, with which, starting in the 1980s, he printed works of white lines on a colored background. This diversity of Sandback’s work is unique in the context of Minimal Art. The Sammlung Goetz contains Sandback’s entire body of printmaking, which also depicts his artistic development.

Prints by Blinky Palermo

Blinky Palermo, whose real name was Peter Heisterkamp, began his artistic career at the Düsseldorf Art Academy. In 1964 he moved into the class of Joseph Beuys, where he gave himself the pseudonym Palermo. His friendship with fellow artists such as Sigmar Polke, Gerhard Richter, Ulrich Rückriem and, above all, Imi Knoebel, with whom he shared a productive studio, were also formative to his artistic development. In their exploration of Kasimir Malevich’s manifesto The Non-Objective World, these artists sought an independent way to free themselves from the laws of conventional painting. Palermo’s charismatic personality, his artistic talent and his early, unexplained death made him a mythical figure in the art world.

Palermo’s primary means of expression was color. He discovered printmaking relatively late in his career creating a total of 37 graphics and editions, almost all of which are owned by the Sammlung Goetz. In his graphic works, he repeated motifs and forms he previously used in his paintings and murals. The printmaking technique allowed Palermo to pursue serial concepts, as with the Five Miniatures (1972), or to document temporary spatial installations, such as his mural Staircase (1970) in the gallery Konrad Fischer in Düsseldorf, in another medium.