After taking a 7:30am direct train to Stuttgart on a Monday from Paris Gare de l’Est, I dropped my luggage off upon arrival and then headed straight for the S-Bahn south to Lienenfelden. I had previously scheduled a visit with the Sammlung Froehlich to view their collection.
Getting to the Sammlung Froehlich
Getting to the Sammlung Froehlich was quite the mission for me, but well worth it! I was still recovering from FIAC, didn’t understand the S-Bahn ticketing machine, and of course didn’t have enough cash on me, as I never do in Europe! Eventually I made it. The Sammlung Froehlich is located only 25 minutes south of Stuttgart via public transportation, in the smaller town of Leinfelden-Echterdingen. It’s a quick 4-minute walk from the S-Bahn station of Leinfelden.
I visited on an absolutely beautiful afternoon. It was the perfect autumn day in Germany with temperatures in the mid-50s, skies bright and sunny and tree leaves bright yellow and orange. As I reached my stop, I took a short walk from the train down a fairly deserted street. The area is quite industrial, with shiny glass commercial buildings lining the streets, but not a café or shop in sight. I turned left onto Kohlhammerstraße and then began to worry that I had taken the wrong address. There were absolutely no tourists here, that’s for sure! I double checked my art collection guide and confirmed I was on the right street.
As I finally did see the signature Bruce Nauman neon work in the window of building 20, I realized that the Mr. Froehlich did actually decided to house his collection next to his office building. His business JW Froehlich apparently produces testing systems for the automotive industry. The ultra-modern and minimalist building was made entirely of glass; you could see right through it to all of the artwork inside.
When I arrived, none of the neon sculptures were illuminated, and no lights appeared to be on in the building. I found a keypad near the main door, and two buzzers with German labels, so I decided to ring the first one.
A few moments later, a friendly German-accented female voice responded, “Hello?” After explaining I had an appointment, I was buzzed into the collection, only visible by the sunlight! The building was empty and quiet which was relaxing and part of the reason why I love visiting private collections. You really have a chance to be alone with the art, without the distraction of other people, museum staff, or tour guides.
About 5 minutes later, a German woman descended the stairwell and introduced herself as the collection manager. She gave me a thorough tour of the exhibition and even gave me the artwork listing catalog to keep!
Inside Sammlung Froehlich
The Froehlich collection is comprised of three floors. The ground floor main exhibition space, the second floor, which consists of a conference room for Mr. Froehlich to hold his business meetings, and finally, the third floor, where the collection staff work in among a small library of artist books and catalog raisonnés. Apparently a Joseph Beuys survey is in the works!
What’s really wonderful about this collection is the interaction between the pieces. For example, some works are enclosed by glass, which in turn, reflects the adjacent neon light sculptures onto its surface, creating a two-in-one visual, depending on where you are standing.
Bruce Nauman, Donald Judd, & Damien Hirst
Damien Hirst, My Way, 1990-91
Damien Hirst, Arginine Decarboxylase, 1994
Damien Hirst, Epinephrine, 2008
Damien Hirst, 8-Chloroxanthine, 2006
Bruce Nauman, Human Nature/Knows Doesn’t Know, 1983/86
Bruce Nauman & Frank Stella
Elmgreen & Dragset
At the end of the tour, we walked back downstairs where I was given a quick peek at the storage room of the Froehlich Collection. A large red Gerhard Richter hung on the wall, in addition to another Bruce Nauman neon piece. Despite the banality, it was so interesting for me to see the “back office” of an art collector, as stock rooms are typically off-limits in public museums and galleries.
The Froehlich Collection is a gem hidden in the industrial country side of south western Germany and definitely work a visit should you find yourself in the area!
Plan Your Visit to Sammlung Froehlich