Selections from the Collection of Helga and Walther Lauffs
On view for the first time in the United States, a selection drawn from the collection of Helga and Walther Lauffs, one of Europe's most important private collections of 20th century post-war art, will be exhibited in May at Zwirner & Wirth (32 East 69th Street) and David Zwirner (525 West 19th Street). This two-part exhibition comprises a focused overview of key examples of Pop Art, Arte Povera, Minimalism, Post-Minimalism, and Conceptual Art. Major works rarely shown outside of Germany by Lee Bontecou, Christo, Joseph Cornell, Jan Dibbets, Lucio Fontana, On Kawara, Yves Klein, Joseph Kosuth, Sol LeWitt, Piero Manzoni, John McCracken, Mario Merz, Robert Morris, Bruce Nauman, Louise Nevelson, Giulio Paolini, Michelangelo Pistoletto, Fred Sandback, George Segal, Richard Serra, Richard Tuttle, Cy Twombly, Günther Uecker, Tom Wesselmann, and Douglas Wheeler will be on view at David Zwirner, while a group of important works on paper by Joseph Beuys, Mel Bochner, Hanne Darboven, Eva Hesse, Jannis Kounellis, and Claes Oldenburg will be exhibited at Zwirner & Wirth.
In the late 1960s, Bad Honnef-based industrialist Walther Lauffs and his wife Helga became interested in putting together an extensive collection of contemporary art. For guidance, they approached Paul Wember, who was known for the visionary program of contemporary art that he developed as the director of the Kaiser Wilhelm Museum in Krefeld from 1947 to 1975. Among the important exhibitions that Wember organized at the museum and its affiliated exhibition spaces at Mies van der Rohe's Haus Lange and Haus Esters were those that presented works by Yves Klein (1961), Robert Rauschenberg (1964), Marcel Duchamp (1965), Fred Sandback, and Sol LeWitt (both 1969), making Krefeld into one of the most interesting cities for contemporary art in Germany. The Lauffs proposed to Wember that, in exchange for his invaluable advice and guidance with the acquisition of artworks for their collection, these works would be made available on long-term loan to his museum so that new artistic perspectives and currents could be presented to the public. Thus, in 1968, Wember and the Lauffs set forth in a collaboration and friendship that would continue through the 1970s, together building a singularly focused collection of art that represents the nexus of European and American artistic sensibilities of the post-war era.