Munich Collects: Regine Thiess on constant change and examination

Regine Thiess comes from a family of collectors and had early contact not only with contemporary art but also artist personalities such as Joseph Beuys, Andre Butzer, Jeff Koons, Albert Oehlen, Neo Rauch, or Jean Tinguely. Parallel to her parents’ Scharpff Collection, Thiess developed her own collection around the subject of “vulnerability” and the work of female international artists including Nairy Bagrahmian, Kerstin Brätsch (KAYA), Carol Bove, Jana Euler, Anne Imhof, Camille Henrot, Jeanette Mundt, Bunny Rogers, Pamela Rosenkranz, and Avery Singer.

munich collects 2 regine thiess
Courtesy of Regine Thiess

Dear Regine, you are known for your wide-ranging and long-standing patronage of various institutions in Munich but also for your amazing collection, which follows a carefully thought-out plan and preferences female artists. Can you tell us a little more about it?

Thank you for the compliment about following a well-thought-out plan. Indeed, this plan is constantly being put to the test, and I have to say that my collection is currently opening up again in the direction of male artists. Important positions in the collection now include Ed Aktins, Harold Ancart, Rashid Johnson, Wolfgang Tillmans, and Jordan Wolfson. Collecting is a constant process of change and examination. For me, it is not so much a question of gender, but a question of what artists are discussing and which topics they are dealing with. Art should pose questions, stir things up, make people think, and polarize.


Regine, how did your own collection actually start and do you remember, by any chance, the first piece you acquired?

At first, I never really considered collecting; however, I was always visiting exhibitions and galleries and also observing the art scene. At some point, the collecting virus took hold of me. I was seeing so many interesting artists. My first acquisition was a work by Daniel Lergon at the art cologne. However, I collect differently today than I used to. You have to learn how to collect and I would say the examples set by my collecting parents certainly helped a lot in this regard.


Are you always sure about your buying decisions? Do you have any recommendations on how to eliminate doubts when buying new pieces?

I experience doubts with every purchase and I also question my decision from every direction. It is precisely this examination of the artist and his or her work that is important and “the salt in the soup” of collecting. To get one’s doubts somewhat under control, one can talk to curators, train the eye by looking at many exhibitions (especially international ones), study the career of the artist in detail, read and research a lot. But in the end, the decision to buy is made alone.

I like to hang new acquisitions in my home and examine their interaction with other artworks. Here, their power and strength can be compared to good pieces by established artists. Then, the question arises as to whether the picture has the charisma to assert itself in the context of others.

munich collects 2 regine thiess
Bunny Rogers, TBT, 2021, Fine Art Print on Hahnemühle PhotoRag Ultrasmooth 305 g. mother of pearl frame, Courtesy Collection Thiess, Munich.

After a long absence in recent years, the last few months have been filled with high-profile exhibitions and shows all over Europe. What are your fondest memories of your recent art travels?

For me, the 59th Biennale The Milk Of Dreams in Venice curated by Cecila Alemani, was a wonderful experience after the deprivations of the last two years. Another highlight was the internationally acclaimed opening of the Jordan Wolfson exhibition in mid-July on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the Kunsthaus Bregenz. It was developed by the director Thomas D. Trummer and includes two pieces from my collection.


Everyone in Munich is looking forward to the next big get-together during the Opening Weekend of Various Others. What does the perfect Saturday in September look like for you?

Over a leisurely breakfast, I like to review all of the inspiring conversations and impressions of the Munich art scene that I have collected at openings during the week.

This includes, of course, the Various Others event. Without fail, I always visit the participating galleries at the Various Others Opening Weekend. I’m happy to see that the circle is getting bigger and bigger and that the partnerships with galleries outside of Munich are becoming more and more intensive.

On Saturdays, I usually chill at home with a stack of art literature since I am out and about almost every day of the week at openings, previews, talks—and not only in Munich.

munich collects 2 regine thiess
Jordan Wolfson, Untitled, 2022, UV paint on plywood and dibon with gloss coat, Courtesy Collection Thiess, Munich.