Started in 1994, the D.Daskalopoulos Collection is today an extended yet focused collection of contemporary art by leading international and Greek artists. The artworks included in the Collection are drawn from the artistic practice of recent decades and focus on the human body as a source of creativity and the vessel of existential, social and ideological struggle. The Collections inner compass is orientated towards the most elemental and universal issues of the human condition. The Collection gives particular prominence to large scale installations and sculptures, as well as drawing, collage, film and video.
Exhibitions of the D.Daskalopoulos Collection have taken place at the Whitechapel Gallery, London (2010-2011); Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao (2011) and Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh (2012-2013).
Important artists in the Collection include; Marina Abramović, Kutluğ Ataman, Matthew Barney, Louise Bourgeois, Vlassis Caniaris, Helen Chadwick, Paul Chan, Bruce Conner, Abraham Cruzvillegas, Robert Gober, David Hammons, Mona Hatoum, Isaac Julien, Jannis Kounellis, Stathis Logothetis, Sarah Lucas, Paul McCarthy, Steve McQueen, Ana Mendieta, Marisa Merz, Annette Messager, Wangechi Mutu, Ernesto Neto, Rivane Neuenschwander, Cornelia Parker, Pipilotti Rist, Dieter Roth, Doris Salcedo, Kiki Smith and Paul Thek.
For almost 30 years, Dimitris Daskalopoulos has stood with a sense of responsibility to share art with the wider public, in an attempt to express his deep admiration for human creativity and his belief that art can inspire people and create a social consciousness. He has been very active in the artworld by donating to museums and supporting exhibitions and also through the open lending policy of the Collection and the creation of NEON, a foundation that shares contemporary art with a Greek audience.
My interest in art has not been limited to the framework of building a collection. Its main characteristic has been the constant pursuit of being in touch with the beauty of art and the joy and inspiration that this contact brings. Dimitris Daskalopoulos.
I believe that collectors bear a responsibility towards the artworks in their collection and their artists: collectors are beholden to attend to the future of their collection with the same care and attention they invested in creating it. Art takes its meaning and exerts its influence only through its interaction with the public. This has led to my decision to gift the better part of my collection to important contemporary art museums, so that they are cared for and preserved for future generations, so that the works are accessible to a broad audience, and so that they will remain in dialogue with the art of the future. This act transforms a private collection into a public resource. Dimitris Daskalopoulos.
The D.Daskalopoulos Collection Gift will create a strong synergy between the MCA Chicago and the Guggenheim to care for and present the jointly gifted artworks. It will also strengthen the international collaboration between EMST and Tate, as they share expertise to create a cultural exchange between their two institutions and lend works nationally and internationally.
The D.Daskalopoulos Collection Gift will be accompanied by the creation of a network of curators, including a new dedicated post at Tate, a new shared post at the Guggenheim and MCA Chicago and also curatorial support to administer and share the Gift at EMST, which will help embed the Gift within the work of each institution.
Through these new posts and the support of the institutions, the Gift will be shared widely with audiences through international displays as well as through their global online reach. The institutions will also be able to draw on the wide variety of artworks in the Gift for future education and learning programmes to deepen audience engagement.
Lina Mendoni, the Hellenic Minister of Culture and Sports, said: "After decades of anticipation, two years ago Athens inaugurated its own Museum of Contemporary Art, filling a large gap in the citys museum landscape. Today, EMST welcomes a unique donation from Dimitris Daskalopoulos, a collector with a deep knowledge and love for contemporary art. The donation, which is comprised of dozens of works, both substantially strengthens the collections of EMST, and also provides the impetus to the Museum to enter into further conversations with other leading museums internationally, and to be able to begin valuable synergies and collaborations with them. As such, the donation not only concerns the Museum and the field of culture, but also impacts the city itself, indirectly enhancing the competitiveness of its cultural services.
Setting aside his passion for collecting, Dimitris Daskalopoulos prioritises his contribution to the people of Athens and to society as a whole. Art is a universal language, and cultural artefacts gain added value through their contact with the public. In industrialised societies, value creation depends on restricted access to resources. Social capital, however, depends on education, presumed access to art, and the democratisation of culture.
By offering his personal collection to four leading contemporary art museums, Daskalopoulos acts as a catalyst to the transformation and the transition of these private works to public goods, accessible to us and the next generations. The Ministry of Culture and Sports expresses its immense gratitude to Dimitris Daskalopoulos."
Richard Armstrong, Director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Foundation said: "Over his distinguished philanthropic career, Dimitris Daskalopoulos has demonstrated a belief in the power of art to expand the collective imagination and address issues fundamental to contemporary life. His conviction that human creativity can strengthen civic life and should be freely available to all has underpinned both his innovative work with NEON and his tenure as a trustee of the Guggenheim Museum. This extraordinary gift from his Collection to the Guggenheim and the MCA Chicago will facilitate a rich expansion of the narratives that can unfold in our permanent collections.
Dr Maria Balshaw CBE, Director of Tate, said: This gift is an extraordinary act of generosity by Dimitris Daskalopoulos and it marks a significant moment for Tates collection. This is not only because of the large number of works involved, but also because of the exceptional calibre of the artists, from Louise Bourgeois to David Hammons to Mona Hatoum. Tates is a truly public collection, owned by and for the people, and these works will reach millions of visitors in our four galleries for generations to come. Even more importantly, our collection is a long-term resource for other museums to draw on, allowing us to reach even more people across the UK and the world each year.
Katerina Gregos, Artistic Director of Greek National Museum of Contemporary Art (EMST) said: "This is the most significant gift in the twenty-year history of EMST in terms of both size and importance. It couldnt come at a better moment: with Greece emerging from the recent debt crisis, the museum has just launched a new phase of full operation with a new artistic programme and a dynamic series of temporary exhibitions and events. The donation significantly enlarges and strengthens its existing collection holdings, further empowering the museum to fulfil its mission as the leading national institution for contemporary art in Greece and one of the flagship institutions in Southern Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean. We are indebted to Dimitris Daskalopoulos for his generosity, his trust, his civic-mindedness, and for the important contribution he is making towards the development of the museum."
Madeleine Grynsztejn, Pritzker Director, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago said Dimitris Daskalopoulos shares the MCAs dedication to harnessing the art of our time as a catalyst for critical thinking, social change, and reflection, marked by an unwavering belief that art expands our collective imagination. This ground-breaking initiative centres collaboration between renowned museums on a global scale, facilitating the exchange of curatorial ideas and the invention of operational models, marking a new chapter in the way museums share great art with their publics. This gift will have a galvanizing effect on the narrative of contemporary art for our present and future audiences and will inspire the current and next generation of creative workers in our rapidly evolving industry.