Since the autumn of 2016, Philipp Demandt has been at the helm of not only the Städel and the Schirn Kunsthalle, but also the Liebieghaus Skulpturensammlung. Born in Constance in 1971, Demandt is an art historian with a strong passion for sculpture. It’s no coincidence that a show on the forgotten Italian sculptor Rembrandt Bugatti was among the highlights under his tenure as director of the Alte Nationalgalerie in Berlin.
What constitutes the special quality of the sculpture medium for you?
Because of its three-dimensionality, people often sense a greater affinity with sculpture than with two-dimensional works. At the same time, sculpture often eludes the viewer because so much of it is monochrome, despite the fact that of course there are and – more importantly – were also sculptures in colour, a field of study the Liebieghaus has devoted special attention to.
What distinguishes the Liebieghaus from other museums?
There’s not just the high quality of the Liebieghaus holdings and the ever-new perspectives on sculpture in our major special exhibitions – there’s also the building itself, which makes this museum a unique place. The villa, the garden, the location, spacious and at the same time intimate. You just always love to go there!
What’s the most exciting discovery you’ve made at the Liebieghaus?
I have a special penchant for French portrait sculpture of the Age of Enlightenment. Intellect and reason shining through from beneath all the powder and wigs – wonderful! My favourite in the collection is Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne II’s „Portrait of Comte Théophile Malo de la Tour d’Auvergne“.
Philipp Demandt studied art history, classical archaeology and media science and gained his doctorate at the Freie Universität Berlin in 2001. After serving as exhibition assistant at the Bröhan Museum in 2002, he became a department head with the Kulturstiftung der Länder (Cultural Foundation of the German Federal States). There his responsibilities included advising German cultural institutions on the purchase and financing of artworks dating from pre- and early history to the nineteenth century, as well as on exhibition projects. From 2007 to 2010 he co-curated the exhibition “Louise: Life and Myth of the Queen” for the Stiftung Preussische Schlösser und Gärten Berlin-Brandenburg. He also planned and directed the magazine Arsprototo published by the Kulturstiftung der Länder, and the foundation’s scholarly publication series Patrimonia.
In January 2012, Demandt was appointed director of the Alte Nationalgalerie in Berlin. There he drew attention to himself with a comprehensive new concept for the display collection and a number of exhibitions that were as innovative as they were successful. He has been the director of the Städel Museum, the Liebieghaus Skulpturensammlung and the Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt since October 2016.