Unlike other collections such as the Guggenheim, Nasher, Beyeler, Panza di Biumo, Gelman and Sonnabend collections, all of which have been exhibited in the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, the Grothe Collection is remarkable in that is focuses on a very specific number of artists yet forms a complete and representative selection of the artistic career of each and every one.
In 1973 Hans Grothe becomes fascinated by the work of Sigmar Polke after seeing the exhibition Original + Faelschung (Original + Forgery) in the Westfälischen Kunstverein in Münster. He decides to acquire his work in its entirety, and thus lays the future foundations of the Grothe Collection.
The names that form part of the collection pertain to the most emblematic artists in German art since the Sixties, figures of such ilk as Georg Baselitz, Imi Knoebel, Gotthard Graubner, Reiner Ruthenbeck, A. R. Penck, Jörg Immendorff, Katharina Sieverding and Stephan Balkenhol. Some of the artists belonging to this collection have already held individual exhibitions in the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, for instance Joseph Beuys, Anselm Kiefer, Ulrich Rückriem, Markus Lüpertz, Gerhard Richter, Günther Förg and Rosemarie Trockel. By contrast, for other artists in the exhibition it is the first time their work can be seen in the Museo, as is the case with Blinky Palermo, considered the link between Minimalism and the most recent modes of geometric abstraction, which has numerous representatives in Germany.
Hans Grothe's interests lie more in complex art movements, represented in cycles of works more than individual ones. This factor enables his collection to establish interesting comparisons between the diverse creative stages of each artists along a forty-year period. According to the exhibition's curator, Walter Smerling, the “artistic friendships” have been at the heart of a large part of Hans Grothe's acquisitions, his network of contacts leading him to significant discoveries.
The importance of this exhibition is due to it being the first time the Grothe Collection has been exhibited outside of German borders. One hundred works, out of the total of seven hundred, by eighteen artists, out of the twenty-eight making up the collection, have been chosen. One of the priorities of the exhibit is to provide a broad vision of German art, particularly from the Sixties and Seventies - extensively immortalised in this set of acquisitions.
For instance, the exhibition includes Blinky Palermo's oil paintings and lithographs from 1964 to 1976; the A. R. Peck's Automatism Studies, 1966-70, together with his sculptures and paintings; Sigmar Polke's Original + Faelschung, that gave rise to the collectionnnnn; some of Gerhard Richter's canvases from 1966 to 1992; three works by Ulrich Rückriem, that include 100 Steel Balls (1974) and the first version of Umgekippte Möbel (Upturned Furniture) by Ruthenbeck.
The Eighties and Nineties meanwhile are represented by numerous works which include Stephan Balkenhol's Hexagon and Frieze (1988); two sculptures by Baselitz from 1993 to 1996 and his paintings from 1964 to1996; Abraham David Christian's paintings and sculptures from the Eighties; the striking project using 1,300 plates by Hanne Darboven called Der Regenmacher (The Rain maker) (1985); the series of acryllic triptych pieces on lead and wood by Günther Förg (1992); five pieces by Anselm Kiefer, which include Heavy Load, from 1981-1996, measuring over eight metres in length, and many others.