Julie Ryan

EVN Sammlung

Liam Gillick, Waldish screen 2, anodized aluminum, plexiglass

The book can't be bought and the collection is not open to the public. But like true love, tax-free atolls, and the snow leopard, things some people may never find or have or see, one can draw sustenance simply by knowing that they exist.
EVN, an Austrian power company based 20 km south of Vienna is quietly amassing one of the more important contemporary corporate collections in Austria. Beginning in '95 an outside independent panel of five people, including Brigitte Huck and Hans Ulrich Obrist were given carte blanche (decision wise) in the formation of this internationally minded collection.
It is a nice collection and an odd lot. It forgoes the obvious present in favor of the foreseeable future. Case in point: Franz West is arguably one of the most important and well-known artists living in Austria today. Well, why argue? He is. Anyway I don't know if there is a collection worth it's salt in this country that would not include him . . . EVN does not. And it is a choice. Their theory is, that there are so many branches coming off of West's influence that are included in the collection, that to also include West would almost be redundant. So it is a significant collection for what it does and does not include. It is pretty gutsy to create a collection within spitting distance of Vienna and choose not to include its most eminent artist. There are pieces by Heimo Zobernig and Marco Lulic which speak, both successfully and directly to the West presence/absence position.
But this is not an Austrian art collection and its international vision is stressed. Though it must be said, it includes more Austrian artists than your average, say, French collection, it is by no means regional. Pieces are loaned to exhibitions and parts of the collection are occasionally exhibited, so the collection is not closeted away exactly.
What it often seems to have done, is take the best that has passed through, or been by, Vienna in the past seven years. For example, Andreas Gursky, Liam Gillick, Sue Williams, and Rudolf Stingel, while all showing internationally, have also all shown in Vienna recently. This inclusive interest in the collection's relevant formation, not of a static point of interest or a single place, but in the life of the place seems a strong foundation for the construction of an international contemporary art collection. Over 150 pieces with important works by Cerith Wyn Evans, Silvie Fleury, Wolfgang Tillmans, Maurizio Cattelan, and Fabrice Hybert, the EVN Sammlung is the best collection I have never seen . . . but I know exists.

Julie Ryan
Vienna, Austria


Rudolf Stingel, Untitled, cast urethane rubber