Ludwig Forum's History
The first presentation of the young American Pop Art scene in Aachen in 1968 by Peter and Irene Ludwig was a real bang. It led to the founding of the Neue Galerie – Sammlung Ludwig, headed by Wolfgang Becker. The program of the Neue Galerie and the later Ludwig Forum für Internationale Kunst was directly linked to the often bold development steps of the Ludwig Collection. As a result of the collector’s enthusiasm for the “direct expression of a generational attitude to life,” works that later became world-famous by Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Duane Hanson, and Chuck Close, among others, found their place in the collection.
In the late 1970s, collectors and the museum turned their attention to Eastern European cultural regions. The turmoil of fundamental social and political changes was reflected in an unusually intense artistic creativity that needed to be observed. Again and again, art from “West” and “East” was now confronted and combined. Works by Baselitz and Ebersbach confronted each other, Socialist Realism and Neue Wilde, just as works from Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania and the USSR confronted works from West Germany, France and Italy. A lasting cooperation with the respective countries was to be guaranteed by the new foundings of the Ludwig Museums in Oberhausen, Koblenz and Vienna, as well as in Budapest and St. Petersburg. In Aachen, the enormously grown collection found new rooms in the Ludwig Forum für Internationale Kunst, which opened in 1991.
The view was now free for a global view of art. Initial negotiations on the acquisition of Cuban art in the early 1990s led to extensive presentations of Cuban and Latin American art. The newly established Ludwig Foundation in Havana was an important partner in this process. In 1996 – with the founding of another Ludwig Museum in Beijing – the basis for a continuous exchange with China was created. The Ludwig Forum Aachen responded with a series of exhibitions featuring artists from China, Taiwan, Korea, Japan and Indonesia. This was complemented by the presentation of new acquisitions from China, which thus found their permanent place in the collection.
Today, the collection and the potential of the Ludwig Forum Aachen present themselves as a kaleidoscope of a world that has moved together in inhomogeneous developmental thrusts over the past 30 years. Its strength is the unprejudiced access to important works of art from five cultural regions: Europe, North America, Eastern Europe, Latin America and Asia.