The Ludwig Collection is characterized by a wide range of artists, art forms, periods, and geographical origins, and it continues to grow. The oldest works in the collection date from around 2000 BC, and the most recent from 2022: paintings and drawings by Ukrainian women artists acquired for the Ludwig Múzeum in Budapest. A major focus of the collection is contemporary and modern art, often with outstanding, comprehensive groups of works. Examples include Pop Art, Pablo Picasso, and the so-called Russian avant-garde. Equally important is the focus on art from the former GDR and USSR, as well as from China and Cuba. However, there are also important areas of the collection from periods before 1900, including medieval sculpture and painting, antiquities from Europe, East Asia, and Latin America and — a particular specialty of the collection — early eighteenth-century porcelain and faïence from Germany and France.
The historical development of the Ludwig Collection can be divided into three phases: dynamism, stability, and continuity.
The phase of dynamism, from about 1948 to 1996, encompasses almost fifty years of joint collecting by Peter and Irene Ludwig. Over the years, their collecting activities evolved in their respective areas of interest. During this phase, much of the collection was assembled, generously donated, or given on permanent loan. The Ludwigs were tireless in their efforts to use their collection to contribute to international understanding and to realize their vision of world art.
The phase of stability is characterized by Irene Ludwig’s productive collaboration with the museums, a phase in which the collector became more public after her husband’s death in 1996. The collection continued to grow. Until her death in 2010, Irene Ludwig was very interested in supporting the work of the museums through acquisitions and targeted funding. It was during this phase that the Foundation was established.
The current phase is that of continuity, which began in 2010 and continues today. The professionally managed collection continues to grow in close collaboration between the Foundation and the museums. This may be of interest to all specialists: The Foundation has an actively maintained internal database of all the works of art in the collection.