"One must keep knocking, knocking, knocking"
with Hanns Egon Wörlen
22nd 2003 (until 2nd January 04) Deutsche Bank shows Richard
Artschwager: Up and Down / Back and Forth at the
Wörlen Foundation - Museum Moderner Kunst in Passau. Over 45
drawings, sculptures, paintings and multiples (1965 - 2003) comprizing a
considerable selection from the Deutsche Bank Collection and private
collections are presented. Dr. Ariane Grigoteit got together with the
architect and founder of the Wörlen Foundation - Museum Moderner Kunst,
Mr. Hanns Egon Wörlen (88) exclusively for db-art.info on the occasion
of the opening of the exhibition.
Hanns Egon Wörlen on May 17th 2002 in front of his Museum Moderner Kunst
Dr. Ariane Grigoteit: How did your first encounter
with art come into being?
Egon Wörlen: I was lucky
enough to be born into a family of artists. My father
Georg Philipp Wörlen was a distinguished artist. The Albertina,
Vienna owns approximately 50 works of his. Two great works of my father
were shown in the exhibition Masterworks of the Leopold Collection,
Vienna (Die Meisterwerke aus der Sammlung Leopold Wien). I was born
in Mannheim/ Palatinate. Aged five I came to Passau. That was extremely
good for my father, for myself and also to the city of Passau.
Grigoteit: Was your family big?
Wörlen: No. I am
the only son. I only met my father when I was four years old. He was
based in a Bavarian regiment and only returned at the beginning of 1920.
The relationship to my dad was nevertheless throughout my life
excellent. My father was a cosmopolitan. He had a head of his own, he
was an exception among artists. I assisted in the studio. Even during
the war I was sawing frames, cutting mounts and kept reordering paint. I
was integrated into the creative production of my father.
My father made some very interessting books following the
advice of the renowned Vienna art author
Arthur Rössler, which I am particularly proud of. We were friends
with Rössler and were allowed to tend his flat in Vienna for six weeks
during vacation time, which was a great mention for us.
Arthur Rössler, who had already discovered
Egon Schiele, back then told my father: I made Schiele popular, now it is
your turn. When the Third Reich and the war began, that however, was
over. After World War Two the young artists gained popularity - a
breakup against the national socialist era.
Today I am a great
ambassador of contemporary art. My house has been errected with the
assumption that there will be an institution which will mediate
contemporary art from the culturally significant location of Passau,
from east to west.
Grigoteit: Did your father witness
these beginnings respectively this development?
Not the beginnings, but my development. I drew a little in those days. My
father fold me: If you want to become a painter, you must become better
than I am. That prevented me from doing so and I became an architect,
which was also good, since it was also an artistic profession and I
could involve artists. Painters, sculptors and authors from the whole of
Germany and Austria used to get together at my father’s home. I used to
be included in their conversations, thereby I grew into artistic
circles. It was my aim to be able to say towards the end of my live:
This is what you have achieved. You did not live in vain.
compulsory for me to invest a 6-digit amount of Euro into the museum,
annually and hence I have to take the problematic decision over and over
again: Do I close the museum down and collect privately art or do I hold
temporary exhibitions to introduce people to art. I consider it my duty
to introduce people to art. A great director of a museum in Salzburg
once said to me: If you make catalogues, take into account that only one
in fifty visitors buys one. And only 1.5 percent of people surrounding
you have access to art. The inhibition threshold to visit a museum is
immense. I hold a close relationship with the local university that
cultivates international ’Cultural economists’. This way we published a
thesis entitled “The museum, the patron, the founder“ for the museum.
I am planning to open a branch, in which I will incorporate, coach and exhibit
other foundations. A great patron would have to be found to support this
project. Then, artists’ names would remain in peoples’ conscience
instead ot getting lost. One must keep knocking, knocking, knocking!