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Stefanie Harig and Marc Ullrich began collecting art and photography years ago – attending fairs, gallery exhibitions, and visiting artists in their studio. As their collection grew, their friends noticed and several became interested in dabbling in contemporary art, as well. Harig and Ullrich soon realized that few venues offered work at a lower price point for new collectors. So they created LUMAS, with the goal of making art more accessible through art print editions that can be viewed and purchased online and in their dozens of galleries internationally. Whitewall recently spoke with Harig and Ullrich to talk about LUMAS’ beginnings, the benefit of exhibiting work in a home setting, and how they would love to work with Karl Lagerfeld.
WHITEWALL: How did you first come up with the concept for LUMAS?
STEFANIE HARIG: Marc and I have been collecting art and especially photography for many years now. We started to go to every gallery, art festival or show, and artist studio within reach. We really invested a lot of time and effort, which not everybody is prepared to spend, to understand the scene. 15 years ago we moved into a new house with many white walls to fill, where we were finally able to hang the works we had acquired over the years. It wasn’t long until friends came by, who were all curious to see how we live and what we surround ourselves with. Mostly we collected photography at that time, expensive works, and gallery-art. We quickly came to realize that there actually was nowhere offering a wide range of works cheaper than € 10,000. That was the time we started to think about LUMAS. So the idea for LUMAS was born.
WHITEWALL: Your galleries are set up as a “Collector’s Home,” rather than a traditional empty gallery space. How do you think this affects the viewer’s experience?
SH: When we started out, we wanted the typical white cube look of a classical gallery. But we came to realize that this actually puts people off coming into the gallery, because it creates a boundary. So we totally reworked the look and feel of our spaces. Compared to usual galleries, “The Collector’s Home” gives our visitors the feeling of being in the private rooms of an art collector rather than a gallery. The works attractively displayed in the living room, kitchen, and library show how a favorite piece would look on the customer’s own wall. This allows the LUMAS portfolio to be displayed as a constantly changing private collection and offers a whole new concept of getting in touch with art.
WW: You also produce a biannual magazine. Can you tell me about this?
SH: Our LUMAS magazine is published twice a year, and provides information about new additions to the LUMAS portfolio. It also includes editorials and artist portraits to give an exciting insight into the contemporary art world, for seasoned collectors and beginners alike. Interviews with experts and important people within the scene complete our coverage of current art events. Customers, and anyone else interested in art, can receive the magazine directly via post, pick it up in our gallery, or download it on our website.
WW: How would you describe the “New Collector?”
SH: Generally, galleries offer large-format, single-print editions, or works with 3-5 prints and 4-5 figure prices, to experienced collectors, institutions and museums. As an alternative, there are the mass-produced, indistinct reproductions found in museum shops. There is a gap in the market for those who have outgrown industrially produced art and are looking for affordable, authentic works. LUMAS was established to fill that gap by creating a new space for art that appeals to all art lovers, including new collectors, who are not necessarily experts yet, but have a very strong interest in art.
WW: What contemporary artists would you most like to work with?
SH: There are many artists we would certainly like to work with, but if we chose, it would definitely be Karl Lagerfeld. He is not only one of the best and most famous designers, but also a great and talented photographer and draughtsman. In his images he knows how to restage his models perfectly; his drawings reflect his perfection in every single sketching line. Any of his works appeal to both the young and old in an extraordinary way.
WW: Marc, you have a background in software development having founded Rainbow Arts. How did you get interested in art?
MU: To be honest, I’ve always been keen on art. My first images were calendar motifs by Salvador Dalì which I painstakingly framed to hang in my room when I was a young boy. They surely were not the common images children like, but I was very interested in surrealism. Later on I started to visit every art museum I came across along my travels.
WW: Why did you choose to focus on photography?
MU: The history of photography is interesting and the fact that photography is now considered to be an art form in the same league as painting and sculpture has only been a fairly recent development in art history. It slowly evolved from documentary photography and journalism to one of the most important mediums in art. Maybe that’s why photography is more accessible to new collectors than other, more established art forms. At least that’s our experience and it shaped our understanding of art, which became a key ingredient when we founded LUMAS.
WW: Does LUMAS have any other upcoming projects?
SH & MU: We are always looking for new projects and possibilities to further develop our portfolio. One of our major projects is opening further galleries all over the world. Apart from that we already have exciting new artists lined up for the portfolio. We will not stand still, that’s for sure.