Classics of Pop Art, Gerhard Richter and Georg Baselitz, graffiti painting and the Leipzig School: throughout their lives, Peter and Irene Ludwig have amassed an incomparable collection of outstanding works since the early 1960s. Donations and permanent loans from their collection are now housed in more than 20 museums worldwide. The home of this unique collection, however, is the Ludwig Forum für Internationale Kunst in Aachen, where the industrialist couple lived and from where they directed one of the largest chocolate and confectionery production operations in the former Federal Republic. The Ludwig Forum Aachen houses some 3,000 works from the collection.
The Ludwigs were among the first collectors of Pop Art. As early as 1968, they showed the new Americans in Aachen. Among them was Andy Warhol, whose unprecedented career is closely linked to the couple. In 1970, Peter Ludwig traveled to Duane Hanson in New York and acquired important groups of figures by the artist, including the Supermarket Lady. The early, scandalous presentations made Aachen a highly relevant exhibition venue for contemporary art-even before the photographic and hyperrealism of documenta 5 in 1972 began its conquest of Europe. Later, purchases by Jeff Koons, Jonathan Borofsky, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and others continued the American line.
Beginning in the early 1970s, the Ludwigs expanded their collecting activities into the GDR and Eastern Europe. Works from the “Eastern Bloc” could often only be acquired in groups, and the state sometimes had a say in the selection of works. Thus, historically relevant paintings are lined up with works by Ilya Kabakov and Erik Bulatov. Purchases in the USSR have been followed since 1983 by Bulgaria, Romania, and Hungary. Early works by Nedko Solakov and Dan Perjovschi thus entered the collection. Later, China and Cuba attracted the attention of collectors. Chinese and Cuban art in particular are focal points at the Ludwig Forum in Aachen.
In addition to the works from the Ludwig Collection, the museum’s holdings include a number of works from municipal collections. These include, for example, around 300 top-class video works by Bruce Nauman, Richard Serra, Laurie Anderson, Joan Jonas and Nam June Paik.