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Legendary art dealer and collector Michael Werner makes major gift of 130 works to Paris
The Man, The Woman, The Lion and the Animals at the Water Hole, 1989 by A.R. Penck. From the Michael Werner Collection.

LONDON.- The legendary art dealer and collector, Michael Werner has made a major gift of 130 works from his collection to the Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris. To mark this exceptional gift, an exhibition of works from the collection will go on show at the museum from 5 October 2012 – 3 March 2013.

Michael Werner will open a new gallery in London in October 2012 with new works by Peter Doig.

Michael Werner’s donation includes works by Marcel Broodthaers, James Lee Byars, Gaston Chaissac, André Derain, Otto Freundlich, Étienne-Martin, Robert Filliou, Antonius Höckelmann, Jörg Immendorff, Per Kirkeby, Wilhelm Lehmbruck, Markus Lüpertz, A.R. Penck, Bernard Réquichot, Niele Toroni and Don Van Vliet.

The gift consists of a number of works by the artists Michael Werner has represented through the years, as well as a group of modern works by artists such as Lehmbruck, Freundlich, Derain and others. The selection for the donation was, for the most part, made by the museum’s director, Fabrice Hergott who made a list of the artists and pieces he felt were crucial to the museum.

Represented by galleries in Berlin, Cologne, New York, and also in London in the autumn, Michael Werner is one of the most influential gallerists in the world and has worked with some of the leading artists of the 20th century. Through his support for artists such as Georg Baselitz, Markus Lüpertz, Jörg Immendorff and Sigmar Polke, he has helped to bring international acclaim to German post-war art. Developed since the 60s, his collection documents his activities over a period of 50 years.

A self-described "conservative anarchist," Michael Werner opened his first gallery, Werner and Katz, in Berlin in 1963 with the first exhibition of paintings by Georg Baselitz. He opened his gallery in Cologne in 1967 and in New York in 1990. Werner discovered and has nurtured some of the most significant post-war artists throughout their careers including Georg Baselitz, Marcel Broodthaers, James Lee Byars, Jörg Immendorff, Markus Lüpertz, Per Kirkeby A.R. Penck, and Sigmar Polke.

His single minded vision of continuously championing the same artists over fifty years sets him apart from his contemporaries and makes him a unique figure in the art world. Werner's uniqueness is furthered by the breadth of his art historical interests which extend well beyond the artists whose careers he started to include Jean Arp, Jean Fautrier, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Yves Klein, Piero Manzoni, Francis Picabia, Kurt Schwitters, all of whose work he has shown at the gallery. In addition to his already diverse interests as a gallerist, as a collector Werner’s collection includes African tribal art, eighteenth century German and French furniture, Khmer Art, and old Master Drawings.

Talking about his donation, Michael Werner has said: “"It is basically a sentimental choice. It was a visit to this museum very early on in my career that profoundly changed my understanding of and relationship to art. In 1962 Georg Baselitz and I travelled to Paris to see an exhibition of Jean Fautrier at the museum and it had a serious emotional impact on me. The exhibition was full of strange and extraordinary paintings and the atmosphere of the show was all encompassing and I was very moved. Although I had been working in a gallery for a few years at that point, I had not really been touched by art in a profound sense. The effect of this exhibition constituted my real entrance into the art world and it defined my way. I am not a religious man but it was like a religious conversion."

Fabrice Hergott, Director of Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville, said: “Michael Werner’s Gift represents the most significant enrichment of the Museum’s collection since the bequest made by Dr Maurice Girardin in 1953, which led to the creation of the Institution”.

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