Unterm Schlößle 5
The Gerken collection is a private collection of contemporary art. Helge Gerken, a huge enthusiast, primarily collects sculptures and paintings by young and talented art students and artists that he finds artistically convincing, but also nationally and internationally established art. Such artists are already represented in public institutions. The programme of the collection is firmly rooted in the different fields of contemporary art: film, etching, drawing, installation, collage, sculpture and painting. His collection now includes over 5000 works. Indeed, art historian and collector Helge Gerken has been collecting for over 40 years. To him, it makes no difference whether works are figurative or abstract. Rather, selection comes down to the following: independence, strength, directness must be intelligible in all artworks in order to be accepted into the collection. During this process, only the artwork itself comes under consideration – biographies and words play no part. For this reason, only certain artworks make it past Helge Gerken’s critical eye, who also receives advice from his family:
Karen Gerken, architect
The Gerken art collection
Between 2004 and 2019, a large part of the collection was built up in collaboration with his daughter Tanja Gerken, who at this time was successfully running an established art gallery for young, contemporary art in Berlin-Mitte. These artworks, acquired from the former Gerken collection, draw in audiences and challenge the observer with their provocative style and their intensity – whether abstract or figurative. Since 2020, she has continued, with pleasure and drive, to support her father in Berlin both administratively and curationally in the hanging and choice of works for the exhibition. The former gallery-rooms in Linienstraße 217, 10119 Berlin-Mitte will, from 2020, be used to display the art collection. The sign from the former galerie gerken glows as it did before, now over the entrance to the Gerken collection.
The small museum schloessle, located in the Kinzig valley in the Black Forest, opened its doors to its first exhibition, Positions of German Sketch Artists in September 2015. It is neither a museum nor a gallery – according to common notion – but rather a product of hobby and passion for art, which Helge Gerken wants to share with the public: ‘I have a private collection’. This collection is housed in the villa formerly owned by his parents-in-law. ‘I have been collecting for quite a long time, it is my passion – the whole house if full of pictures and sculptures’. In 2014, Helge Gerken opened the doors to his museum schloessle for the first time. ‘I just decided to invite the neighbours’, with works by wife Helga Gerken-Grieshaber, whose work is represented by many public and private art collections. Featured artwork includes, for instance, that of Voré, Arnulf Struck, Mathis Altmann, Peter Tomschiczek, Kinki Texas, Peter Feiler, Michael Wutz, Michael Schoenholtz, Peter Wackernagel, Ruud Kuijer, Norbert Stockhus, Dieter Mammel, Anja Fußbach, Tinka Bechert, Tegene Kunbi, Patrick Lützelschwab and Werner Pokorny.
In Berlin and in Wolfach, works from the Gerken collection are shown in various group and singular exhibitions, which are temporarily presented to the public in alternating displays. Here, entrance is free of charge. The art room in Berlin is always temporarily open during the annual Berlin gallery weekend; see gallery-weekend-berlin.de.