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A Top Polish Art Collector Is Selling Off 200 Works to Fund Her Private Museum

Grażyna Kulczyk will offer pieces from Vanessa Beecroft, Zhang Huan and more across five sales in October.

Art collector Grażyna Kulczyk Courtesy of Grażyna Kulczyk

Grażyna Kulczyk, a Polish collector and investor, will auction around 200 works from her contemporary art collection this fall to raise funds for the Muzeum Susch, her private museum in Swiss Alps. Additional sale proceeds will go towards the collector’s charitable organization, the Art Stations Foundation, which funds cultural projects.

Works by the likes of Vanessa Beecroft, Zhang Huan, and Thomas Ruff, as well as ones by Polish postwar and contemporary artists, will be sold across five sales between October 18 and 20 at the Warsaw-based auction house Desa Unicum. Funds from the sales will go toward the museum’s exhibition programming, a contemporary performance and dance program, and research initiatives.

In a statement, Kulczyk said the five-part sale series will mark a shift in her collecting practice as she moves her focus toward promoting women in the arts. It’s a theme that has run throughout the Muzeum Susch, which Kulczyk opened in 2018. Since then, it has mainly focused on female artists, in particular ones from Poland and Central Europe.

Kulczyk, who ranks on ARTnews‘s Top 200 Collectors list, is one of Poland’s richest women and the former wife of the investor Jan Kulczyk, who died in 2015. She has business ventures in the telecommunications and energy sectors, and focuses on female-founded companies.

Michael Najjar’s Bionic Angel (2007)
Michael Najjar’s Bionic Angel (2007) Courtesy of Grażyna Kulczyk

In a statement, Kulczyk describes the works selected for sale as having “fulfilled their role” in her larger collection.

“It’s time for them to live on,” she continued. “I do not want to appropriate them. I believe that they can give rise to or develop many more collections.”

Some of the artists in the auctions, like Beecroft and Ruff, already have collector bases. But many of the Polish artists in the auctions don’t have established markets yet.

Among the works headed to sale are documentation from Beecroft’s performance VB43.019 (2000), which involved 23 models and took place at London’s Gagosian gallery; editions related to a four-part installation by Loris Gréaud, titled Nothing is true everything is permitted (2007), which depicts stellar constellations mapped to a cartographic grid; and Michael Najjar’s 2007 photograph Bionic Angel, a portrait of a woman superimposed with imagery recalling neural fibers. Works from the 1950s and ’60s by Wojciech Fangor, Henryk Stażewski, Jerzy Nowosielski, and Tadeusz Kantor will also be sold.

Estimates for the auction’s lots have not yet been announced.

An exhibition showcasing the collection will be on display at DESA Unicum’s Warsaw headquarters from October 4 to 20.

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