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Charlotte Zander (1930 - 2014)

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Charlotte Zander

Until Charlotte Zander’s final moments, her thoughts, her activities and her decisions were directed towards her life’s work – her extremely comprehensive and exquisite collection of Naïve Art, Art Brut, and outsider art. Consistently and independent from the zeitgeist, Zander spent over sixty years collecting more than 4,500 paintings and sculptures, a worldwide and unique combination of the art of autodidacts. Artists like Séraphine Louis, Henri Rousseau, Morris Hirshfield, André Bauchant, Camille Bombois, and Adolf Wölfli are an important part of her collection.

Charlotte Zander began to collect Naïve Art in 1959 and from the mid-1960s she also included Art Brut and outsider art. In 1970, she founded the Galerie Charlotte in Munich, which became one of the very early galleries dealing in the art of autodidacts. She took part in important fairs such as the Art Basel and Art Cologne and drew international attention from numerous exhibitions and publications. For many years she was a member of the Executive Board of the Bundesverband Deutscher Galerien und Kunsthändler, an association representing gallery owners and art dealers. In 1995, she closed the gallery and in 1996, she founded the Museum Charlotte Zander in Schloss Bönnigheim, near Stuttgart, where her collection is presently held.

Zander became a passionate ambassador who fought tirelessly for the acknowledgement of this field of art. The Charlotte Zander Collection bears the distinctive singularity of its founder who collected only what she loved. Zander decreed that her daughter, Susanne Zander, assume her role at the museum. Cynthia Thumm remains its director.

Photo by Johanna Zander