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10 February 1961 |
Cologne, West Germany
Benedikt Taschen (born 10 February 1961), is a German publisher and collector of contemporary art. He is the founder and owner of TASCHEN, one of the most successful publishing houses in the field of art, architecture, design, film, photography and popular culture.
Life and career
Benedikt Taschen was born in Cologne, the youngest of five children. Both of his parents were doctors. At 12 years old, he established a mail order company for second-hand comics from the USA. At age 18, he opened a 250-square-foot (23 m2) store in Cologne, Germany, named TASCHEN COMICS. In 1984, he borrowed money from an aunt to buy 40,000 remainder copies of a Magritte monograph published in English. In two months, the books had sold out at a fraction of their original price but double the price Taschen had paid for them. Identifying a gap in the market for well-produced, affordable and multilingual art books, Taschen began publishing his own editions, starting with an Annie Leibovitz monograph. By the end of the 1980s TASCHEN titles were available in over a dozen languages at prices that made art books affordable to students and collectors alike.
By the late 1990s, he had become a household name in publishing. When Vanity Fair’s Matt Tyrnauer deemed him, “one of the few people in business who has the courage to do exactly what he wants whenever he wants to”, Benedikt Taschen tested the theory with Helmut Newton’s SUMO, the largest bound book of the 20th century.
SUMO is also the company’s most successful title of the last ten years and the precursor to Benedikt Taschen’s most ambitious personal project: GOAT — Greatest of All Time, a tribute to Muhammad Ali, published in Spring 2004. Four years in the making, GOAT weighs 75 lbs and is 20" x 20" in size, with nearly 800 pages of archival and original photographs, graphic artwork and articles and essays - including those of Ali himself.
Another of his books is the ‘Icons’ series of art books, some of the most accessible in the world.
Today, TASCHEN has offices in Berlin, Cologne, Hong Kong, London, Los Angeles, Madrid, Paris and Tokyo and stores in Amsterdam, Beverly Hills, Brussels, Cologne, Hamburg, Hollywood, London, Miami, Milan, New York, and Paris. In 2014, TASCHEN opened their first art gallery in Los Angeles. The publishing house employs more than 250 staff members worldwide and many longtime freelance editors.
Taschen has been collecting works of art by Martin Kippenberger, Albert Oehlen and Günther Förg since the middle of the 1980s. Later on, he also started collecting several works of US-American artists such as Jeff Koons, Mike Kelley and Christopher Wool. In 2004, The Sofia dedicated an extensive exhibition to his private collection. ARTnews regularly counts him to the 200 top collectors worldwide, artnet ranks him first among the “10 Los Angeles Art Power Couples”. In 2013, the Städel in Frankfurt, Germany, received a major donation consisting of fifteen works from Taschen’s collection to reinforce the museum’s holdings of German painting from the 1980s. To the Wende Museum in Culver City, California, Taschen made a half a million dollar donation with the view to creating an international center for the exploration and preservation of Cold War culture, art, design and history. In 2012, Taschen donated an extensive collection of young US-American and European artists to the MOCA.
He is married to Lauren Taschen, has five children and lives in the Chemosphere, designed by John Lautner in 1960. He bought the home for US$1 million in 1997, restored the building, and published a book on Lautner. He lives and works in Berlin and Los Angeles.
Main article TASCHEN
Basically, everything I ever needed to learn about capitalism I learnt from Carl Barks and his characters Donald Duck and Uncle Scrooge.— Benedikt Taschen, The Wealth Collection, Winter 2009.
Benedikt Taschen is a miracle of taste in publishing … He consistently maintains incredible quality in content and style … He documents both the present and the past in an indispensable way.
Benedikt reminds me of an old-time Hollywood figure—a studio head, someone who is in firm command and has his hand in everything.
I have done a lot of books, and I can tell you — without mentioning names — that publishers are not all like him. There are very few like him. Or there are none like him. He is also, I might add, a madman.
- Susan Michals: “Benedikt Taschen's Risky Business” in the Wall Street Journal, February 4, 2011.
- Michaela Cordes: 35 Jahre Taschen in Grund Genug, June 5, 2015.
- TASCHEN History: The Art of Making Books
- The Secret to TASCHEN’s success in Artforum
- Michel Guerrin: Taschen le livre d'art démocratisé in Le Monde, May 16, 2002.
- “Benedikt Taschen”, ICON 067, William Wiles, January 2009.
- “Taschen Grand Opening With David Bailey and the Rolling Stones” in The Huffington Post, December 17, 2014.
- Jessica Berens: “A passion for Taschen” in The Observer, November 4, 2001.
- Colección Taschen on the website of the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía.
- The Editors of ARTnews: The 2014 ARTnews 200 Top Collectors.
- Susan Michals: “10 Los Angeles Art Power Couples You Need To Know”, April 3, 2015.
- Press release: “Städel Museum receives donation from Benedikt Taschen”, November 13, 2013.
- “Publisher Benedikt Taschen Takes Leading Role In The Wende Museum’s Renovation Of The Historic Armory Building In Culver City, California”, on the website of the Wende Museum.
- “The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (MOCA), announces 2012 Acquisitions”, January 18, 2013.
- “The #Taschen’s Happy 10th wedding anniversary Benedikt & Lauren Taschen” on Simon de Pury’s Instagram account, July, 2015.
- “Lauren Taschen”, Visionary Women, June 7, 2015.
- “35 Years of TASCHEN” in Grund Genug, Michaela Cordes, June 1, 2015.
- “Taschen’s wedding gift” in The Art Newspaper, June 14, 2005.
- “Sex & Beauty, Art & Kitsch”, LA Weekly, Brendan Bernhard, September 19, 2002.
- The Passion of Benedikt Taschen, September 11, 2009.
- Benedikt Taschen’s Risky Business, February 4, 2011.