The Schreiner Collection of Contemporary Cuban Graphic Arts
Another significant fact added to all this. At that time, Wolfgang met Stefanie Barbara, his future wife and then director of the graph gallery in the Old Museum (Altes Museum) in East Berlin, German Democratic Republic. Stefanie was a collector too and an expert in contemporary art in Eastern Europe. So in 1994 they both joined their collections and founded the Grafik Museum in Bad Steben, under the idea that “art may build bridges—between persons and also between countries.” Following this altruistic principle, the general conception of the museum was divided into four basic work lines: graphic arts in Eastern Europe, the most significant artists of the late GDR, the Cuban and international collection, and the regional artists. Among its most important purposes was the dissemination in Germany of the graphic art of these countries. Taking into account this joint work and their commitment with art and society, in the past the Schreiners received high official acknowledgement from the German state and Mr. Schreiner received the title of Doctor Honoris Causa from the National Academy of Arts in Sofia.
As we all know, towards the final years of the eighties Peter Ludwig was the first Western collector who systematically bought art from the vanguards of the socialist countries. The exhibition Kuba Ok. Arte actual de Cuba (Cuba Ok. Present Art of Cuba), curated by Jurgen Harten and Antonio Eligio (Tonel) in the summer of 1990 in the Kunsthalle in Dusseldorf, attracted Ludwig’s attention on the Cuban art of that decade, to the point of ending up buying almost all the works there exhibited. From then on, an intense relationship with Havana began. Precisely in one of their reiterated trips to Cuba, Ludwig and his wife Irene invited the Schreiners to spend vacations together with them in the Island. What in November 1993 should have been a mere pleasure tour for this couple, soon became a discovery trip. “That our plans (rest and recreation) were not fulfilled—Wolfang and Stefanie Schreiner state on the preface to the catalogue of the Cuban collection—we today see as a stroke of luck in our activity as collectors.”