The Langen Foundation was founded in 2004 by the Langen family in order to continue the artistic legacy of Viktor (1910-1990) and Marianne (1911-2004) and is run by the family. Viktor, entrepreneur, and president of the Düsseldorf IHK (Industrie und Handelskammern) married Marianne Heimann, who had studied photography at the famous Lette-Haus in Berlin in 1940.
After the war, the couple started collecting with two objectives in mind: ‘to collect the art of today and to buy art that spontaneously caught their eye. Their first two acquisitions, a “Meditation” (1934) by Alexej von Jawlensky and an oil sketch (1927) by Fernand Léger, set the tone for their collection. Their western post-war collection includes work by artists such as Brancusi, Braque, Cézanne, Calder Cragg, Dubuffet, Ernst, Fontana, Jawlensky, Kandinsky, Klein, Marc, Miró, Mondrian, Picasso, Polke, Rodtschenko, Schwitters; alongside works from op-art and pop-art, minimal art, Zero Group en arte povera.
Traveling for work took the couple to all corners of the world and provided the opportunity to collect representative pieces from a range of different cultures. In many ways, these pieces became the means through which they gained an insight into, and understanding of, the world. Japan, to which they traveled often, became a very special place. The Langen’s fell in love with its art and collected some 500 pieces, including some major pieces from the 12th-20th century.
The Langen collection also includes some hundred Buddhist sculptures from India, Cambodia, and Thailand, as well as more than 130 pre-Columbian art objects, alongside pieces from China, Korea, Africa, Oceania, Egypt, Ancient Greece, and Ancient Persia. At the end of the 20th century, while the collector Karl-Heinrich Müller was developing his visionary project (Museum Insel Homboïch) combining art, architecture, and landscape on the grounds of the former Rocket Station of the NATO base in the Lower Rhine district, he invited Tadeo Ando to design a building. When Marianne saw the plans in 2001, it didn’t take her long to decide to built “The largest work of art that I have ever purchased.”The Foundation showcases its rich collection of oriental art, though there is also a continued focus on contemporary art with exhibitions by artists such as Otto Piene (2014), Olaf Eliasson (2015), and Richard Deacon (2017).
Watch our interview with Mrs Christiane Schneider: