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Connoisseur's Guide · Europe · germany · Neuss · Four fascinating museums of private collections

Langen Foundation

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Langen Foundation

The Hombroich Cultural Environment near Neuss is home to one of the largest and most ambitious cultural projects in the Düsseldorf area - a unique synthesis of nature, architecture and art, it is actually a major project on a European scale. It's located at two separate sites, ten minutes apart. The sites are as different as night and day - one, Museum Island Hombroich, is a historic park that has been transformed into a place for art, nature and adventure; the other site is a former rocket base - Raketenstation Hombroich - the former bunkers of which have been converted into galleries and other cultural establishments. Until the US and the Soviet Union concluded a comprehensive arms treaty, this was a rocket base and wasn't noted on any map. The demilitarization took place in 1992 and 1993. The impression this place leaves is still surreal. Leaving your car in the car park, the only thing that lets you know that you're going to encounter art is a 14-foot stone sculpture that exceeds the old army watchtower in scale. The rest of the landscape consists of rolling hills, apparently - but the green hillocks are actually the old bunkers. This sort of wilderness is well-preserved, winding paths leading between apple and pear trees. The central or at least most imposing art object here is the 2004 work Langen Foundation by the Japanese artist Tadao Ando. On an overcast day, the low beige concrete and glass building, reflected in the artificial lake beside it, is oddly and poetically lovely. There's an unbelievable lightness and airiness to it, as if the building had focused the greyness of the day in itself. It's said that the great collector Marianne Langen, at the instant she first saw Ando's project, decided to bring it into being by her own means - the last great work in her collection becoming the home of her collection. Ensconced in the seeming rolling hills that are of course bunkers; the museum is only seen in its tiniest part. Most of the space is below ground - six meters below, it cannot even be sensed from the surface. The eight-metre ceilings give the space an unbelievable vastness. The entrance is along a stone path by a line of cherry trees and the lake. The Langen collection of Japanese art is above ground, its space narrow and long, the light pouring in giving it a warm, intimate atmosphere. One can get here through one of the glass corridors that envelop the beige concrete carcass like an envelope. The glass envelope is not merely aesthetic but also has a function - it protects the concrete structure from rain. Another glass corridor leads down into the underground galleries, where changing exhibits are on display. The lower galleries are 436 square metres in area and mostly devoted to temporary exhibitions.

*Langen Foundation currently features an art exhibition - homage to its founder, Marianne Langen (7.12.1911-14.2.2011), on the occasion of her 100th birthday. The collector passed away just short of her centenary anniversary. "We wanted to see the great cultures with our own eyes" is one of the life mottos of Marianne and her husband Victor. They perceived art as a key to other cultures and to explore the world was the main reason why they started collecting art. Besides to over 300 works of art in the collection "Paintings of the 20th century", the Foundation holds also a collection of Japanese art and over 100 Buddhist sculptures from India, Cambodia and Thailand. The exhibition offers a glimpse into all the aspects of Langen family collection and will be available for viewing until December 2012.

Raketenstation Hombroich 1
41472 Neuss


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