Thomas Tyllack is a Berlin-based businessman and art curator. We connected on social media and after checking out his profile and art activities, I decided I had to chat with him. He founded http://www.art-exhibitions-berlin.de/index.html which exists to share contemporary art and its message with the public. Needless to say, that alone gives us plenty to chat about…
MICHAEL: Hello Thomas, I'm excited to be chatting with you. First of all, it seems that you have a lot of art projects going on. Are you a curator or businessman or what? What do you do in the art world and why do you do it?
THOMAS: Hi Michael, A lot of my work lies in the realization of art exhibitions. Regarding this, I would describe myself more as an organizer and presenter of art projects. This includes the activities of a curator, technician and businessman. I see my task to make art visible not only in the virtual world but rather in a real exhibition. As many people as possible should be given an opportunity to encounter with contemporary art and to have the chance to perceive art sensual. So the task is to bring art to the public. My partners thereby are artists, curators, institutions and organizations that have the same goal, to make art public.
MICHAEL: You have two or three different websites. What do each of them do and what is the purpose of each of them?
THOMAS: Yes, there are even more. Art Place Berlin shows the current and past exhibitions, that I have organized at Art Place Berlin, the Forum for Contemporary Art. On this website, you can also find a lot of information about the exhibitions in the former 'Art Center Berlin' in the Friedrichstrasse (2005 – 2010). The website www.art-exhibitions-berlin.de is more personal and shows other projects of mine.
MICHAEL: Do you come from an artistic family? What was your first experience with art? How did you get involved with art and become a curator?
THOMAS: My father was a sculptor. He came from a family with artistically talented children. One of his sisters was a concert pianist, another a concert singer. Early on, I learned many things from my father. He died in 1975, a year before I began to study in Berlin. I had an interdisciplinary study of fine arts along with art history and art theory. After five years, I graduated with a degree in sculpture. This was followed by years of professional artistic activity. A few more years, I worked in the field of historic preservation. I also had the opportunity to gain commercial experience. In 2005, I took over the job of founding the Art Center Berlin Friedrichstrasse. The Art Center Berlin with more than 3000m² of exhibition space on seven floors and became one of the largest forums for exhibitions of contemporary art in Berlin. During the five years of exhibition presentation (until the closing in 2010), I organized more than 100 exhibition projects at the Art Center Berlin as the managing director and frequently also as curator. http://www.art-place-berlin.com/english/02pastprojects/pastprojects-acb.html. I also established Prevailed at the Art Center, a museum-like atmosphere, which is lively in the exhibitions of Art Place Berlin. Monthly, more than 30,000 visitors here see the exhibitions of contemporary art.
MICHAEL: What do you actually do as a curator?
THOMAS: I think the classic practice of a curator is as a research assistant in a museum or a collection. I work as an organizer of exhibitions, so this is characterized by curatorial practice more or less dependent on the projects. The focus is on the development of the exhibition concept. Essentially, it's about exploring a topic and an oeuvre. With the selection of the exhibits, the design of the exhibition and accompanying information, the goal is to create a visual and sensual experience. Technical and commercial aspects are of course, also tasks.
MICHAEL: So many people all over the world would never think that they can become art collectors or even really become knowledgeable about art. What do you think about this? What can be done to reach more people who may be afraid of art?
THOMAS: That is exactly the aspect that essentially determines my action. Art is one of the most impressive results of human existence. The imagination and the artistic creation are the things that are unique to human beings, more than any other activity. The enjoyment and spiritual enrichment that an encounter with art can be, is a matter of education. Many works of art, especially contemporary art, cannot be understood by the viewer without time for intellectual analysis. Therefore, many people reject many works of contemporary art and often have nothing but contempt for it. These people would not willingly attend an exhibition of contemporary art. Incidentally, their financial status isn’t necessarily a factor. So, I go another way and confront people unexpectedly with the exhibitions of contemporary art. We always reach new people who are beginning to take an interest in art. This may be a beginning to becoming an art lover or even an art collector. This seems more purposeful than again and again appealing always to the same collectors. The issue of education and appreciation also play essential roles in projects of mine.
MICHAEL: So many people think contemporary art is silly and not worth their time. What does art do for you personally? Why spend so much time with art?
THOMAS: Art has accompanied me all the time of my life. It provides sensory experiences, but there’s even more than this sensual experience; also the understanding, the intellectual challenge and the placement of depth and view behind-the-reality. Art is actually pure luxury. It is not vitally necessary, but can greatly enrich our own lives. It would be great to give as many people as possible this feeling. For myself I say: Can there be anything better than to be busy with art every day and to be able to call this my profession?
MICHAEL: Thanks Thomas. Great chatting with you.