Kontakt. The Art Collection of Erste Group focuses on that Central, Eastern and Southeast European artistic activity which has accompanied the social and political developments of the past decades and has been contributing significant works to European art since the late 1950s.
The collection’s purpose is to reflect on conceptual forms of art production within Europe’s changing political geographies. This involves placing the art of the formerly socialist countries in an international art context and drawing attention to its reciprocal connections and varied practices. Kontakt aims to collect works which play an integral role within European art history while also claiming an exceptional status within a politically heterogeneous terrain.
There are several categories of interest which developed within the art scene of the 1960s and correspond with the major themes of the collection: the reflection on and approach to modernist structures, the redefinition of material in space, issues of the political and the public, and matters of the body on both a performative and a gender-emancipative level.
Reflections on such developments in these regions serve as the point of departure for assembling and expanding a collection of artworks in a variety of media and formats. The younger artists represented by Kontakt often relate to the works of their precursors from the 1960s, lending the collection coherence in media and thought.
The presentation of the collection’s art¬works remains decentralized and
r¬elational, and is independent of an institutional or locally anchored exhibition space. In general, the artworks are available as loans for context-specific exhibitions and presentations. Currently, over 50 artists from 10 countries are represented in the collection.
A further aim of the collection is to function as a research tool that helps international scholars and curators gain more insight concerning specific fields of interest, providing information about individual artworks in order to facilitate their circulation in exhibitions as important art-historical testimonies. Hence, the mission of the collection consists in bringing together a body of art-historically unique, yet in their entirety coherent works which, taken together, allow for a new understanding of art from various political and social angles.