The Ludwigs rank among the first collectors of Pop Art. Already in 1969 they presented the new Americans in Aachen, amongst others was Andy Warhol, whose unprecedented career was tightly interwoven with the collectors. In 1970 Peter Ludwig travelled to New York to meet Duane Hanson and purchased important groups of figures by the artist, i.a. the “Supermarket Lady”. These early potentially outrageous presentations turned Aachen into a highly relevant exhibition place for contemporary art. Long before Photorealism and Hyperrealism took on their conquest of Europe originating from the documenta of 1972. Later purchases of Jeff Koons, Jonathan Borofsky and Jean-Michel Basquiat continued the American line.
Since the beginning of the 1970s the Ludwigs expanded their collecting activities to the GDR and Eastern Europe. Art works from the “Eastern Bloc” were often only available as whole groups and the state partially had a say in the choice of works. Thus, historically relevant paintings stand alongside works by Ilja Kabakov and Erik Bulatov. Since 1983 the purchases from the USSR were followed by Bulgaria, Romania and Hungary. Along these lines, early works by Nedko Solakov and Dan Perjovschi found their way into the collection. Later Cuba and China stirred the collectors’ interest. Especially Chinese and Cuban art are focal points of the Ludwig Forum Aachen.
Alongside the Ludwig collection, a number of art works are owned by the City of Aachen and are part of the in-house stock. Amongst others these include 300 works of video art by top-class names such as Bruce Nauman, Richard Serra, Laurie Anderson, Joan Jonas and Nam June Paik.