A turndown is followed by repentance
Only once, in 1980, was there any hint of discord between Goslar and the chosen winner – the Swiss painter Jean Tinguely declined the award. “He was worried that the Imperial Ring might be too much of a marketing tool for Goslar – and that contradicted his artistic ethos. But, according to our knowledge, he later came to greatly regret not having accepted the Ring,” says Ruhrberg.
How times change. 40 years later, it seems no one is ruffled any more if an art award also enhances a city’s image. The Imperial Ring means Goslar attracts attention from far beyond the region – and that’s pretty rare for a town its size, says mayor Oliver Junk. “However, the Imperial Ring also has a very strong internal impact. After all, how do you make a town or city attractive? Not only through trendy streets and nursery school places, but also with a rich cultural offering."
The “Miracle of Goslar” is not taken for granted, even after 43 years, emphasizes Ruhrberg. Goslar’s Art Association counts more than 2,500 members – “an incredible number given the town’s size.” Nevertheless, preparing the exhibition of the winner’s works every year involves a major organizational and financial effort, one that depends on support. Some winners need numerous helpers from their studio to prepare the works for the exhibition and assist in setting them up. Rising prices on the art market are also making themselves felt. “The more valuable the works are, the more expensive they are to insure against damage in transit and at the exhibition.”
Partners for culture
Volkswagen has supported the Imperial Ring for the past four years. The company enables the winners’ works to be exhibited at the Mönchehaus Museum. In addition, Volkswagen is currently helping to fund a film about the history of the prize and its artists. This engagement strengthens cultural diversity in the region around nearby locations of the company, such as Salzgitter or Braunschweig, and fosters international networking between cultural partners.
The cooperation with Goslar is not a one-off – the company is a partner to major national and international cultural projects at many other places. Their commitment aims at giving as many people as possible access to art, music or design. Volkswagen thus promotes mutual inspiration, dialogue and lively and spirited engagement with current ideas and stances of numerous creative artists.
Example of New York: As a partner to the Museum of Modern Art, the Volkswagen Group of America supports the development and implementation of new learning formats at the famous MoMA. One example of the many joint projects is the museum’s online courses, which are available for free to art lovers throughout the world. More than 300,000 people have already used the offering – and the course has even been translated into Mandarin Chinese thanks to Volkswagen. The Volkswagen Group of America is the Lead Partner of Education to the MoMA and, as part of its support, attaches great importance to fostering an understanding of modern and contemporary art.