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ART & TOYS – Selim Varol Collection

ART & TOYS – Selim Varol Collection
“At Home I’m A Tourist”
Exhibition runs until 16.09.2012


Many of us are enthusiastic collectors in childhood, fascinated by all kinds of treasures: stamps, shells from the beach, cuddly pigs, stickers or Dinky cars, these are but a few of the objects to which we gladly devote our time and care. In many cases that interest soon recedes, collections are abandoned or broken up entirely. But in some rare instances the passion for collecting and the enthusiasm that goes with it do not fade, but are broadened, nurtured and remain an important part of life.

Selim Varol is a young collector of Turkish descent from Düsseldorf. He is an entrepreneur, owner of the Düsseldorf cafe TOYKIO, and sponsor of international art projects. He began collecting toys when he was six years old, eventually focussing on urban and contemporary art. One characteristic shared by all the works in this collection is the close link between art and the everyday, as well as their often playful and humorous or subversive character. The exhibition includes a total of 3,000 works by more than 200 artists & designers from over 20 countries.

My collection, that’s me – my childhood, my friends, my heroes, my role models, what I enjoy, what moves me. Pictures from my journey: ‘at home i’m a tourist’” Selim Varol.

Toys led you to art, specifically to artists known to the general public as urban artists. How long have you been collecting things other than TOYS?
The whole thing started in Tokyo in 1999 with the first art-toy by KAWS, also known as Brian Donelly, and through him I learned about Shepard Fairey and all the other artists. KAWS has definitely had the strongest influence on my art collecting. I don’t think I made clear transitions from collecting toys to sculpture to art. Even if some of the artists have their origins in the urban scene, many of them have since become established in the contemporary art scene. But my attitudes as a collector have changed over the course of the years. I used to try to collect certain series and editions in their entirety, but now I just collect what I like and what adds something essential to my collection.

The artists represented in your collection often show their work in public spaces for the purpose of voicing social critiques and airing grievances to a wide audience. Do you use your collection in a similar way?
Art with a social critique can definitely serve that purpose, but that wasn’t my original intent. I prefer to think of my collection as a documentation of the culture that influenced me and many others of my generation. The toys represent a sort of playful imaginary world world, whereas many other pieces in my collection involve a critique of society and consumerism. It’s worth pointing out that almost none of the political topics have lost their relevance over the years. And toys and childhood never have.

Not all the artists in your collection are represented by traditional galleries because they haven’t been fully accepted by the art market or on the terms dictated by their own scenes (street credibility). How do you understand this phenomenon and does it have an effect on you as a collector?
Neither street credibility nor acceptance into the art market influences me significantly, except that both these phenomena have a strong impact on the prices of artwork. So they’ve dramatically limited my purchases in terms of a few specific artists.

me Collectors Room Berlin / Olbricht Foundation, Auguststrasse 68, 10117 Berlin
Opening hours: Tuesday – Sunday, 12 p.m. – 6 p.m.



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