Art collecting powerhouse couple, Agnes and Karlheinz Essl may be aging, but their eye for contemporary art is always sharpening. Believing that “art enriches life and releases innovative forces,” the two have always sought to collect challenging works, beginning with the Vienna Actionists onward.
With a true respect for artists, they don’t treat contemporary art like candy; rather they view each purchase is an investment, preferring groups of works to single pieces. Moving past an Austrian-heavy collection, the couple bought works by CoBrA group artists and international painters like Frank Stella, Georg Baselitz and Gerhard Richter. Opening their Heinz Tesar-designed public museum in 1999, the Essls now display a collection that boasts the likes of Damien Hirst, Paul McCarthy, Thomas Struth, Andreas Gursky, Bill Viola, Tony Oursler and Jonathan Meese.