Bringing together the best contemporary artworks from Turkey and across the globe, Contemporary Istanbul (CI), welcomed its 11th edition with an exciting project titled “Collectors’ Stories”. The project brought together artworks of 60 highly regarded collectors from Turkey in a large exhibition that took place in a 1500 m2 exhibition space at Contemporary Istanbul 2016. The exhibition was curated by Contemporary Istanbul Artistic Advisor Marc Olivier-Wahler and coordinated by Prof. Marcus Graf.

Collector’ Stories, an innovative collaboration produced for the very first time in Turkey, featured works personally selected by the collectors from their own collections and focused on the personal stories between the collectors and their works. By providing an opportunity for collectors to present their individual aesthetic insights, the exhibition also facilitated a conversation on the shifting dynamics of contemporary art tastes and how best to build an art collection.

Collectors’ Stories can be understood as a review on the current state and character of collections in Turkey by giving an insight in strategies, tendencies, motivations behind collecting contemporary art. It also exposed the individual relationships that collectors have with the works they acquire, with the artists they meet, with the gallery owners, writers, and curators they regularly encounter with in their quest of finding the ultimate work. Rethinking the contemporary aspect of private collections and the works in question, the exhibition also presented a unique opportunity for collectors, art enthusiasts, curators and art professionals.

Ultimately, Collectors’ Stories aimed at propelling the collection of contemporary art by showing successful examples of how to become a great collector who follows an individual passion that enriches culturally, spiritually and intellectually. In this context, it can also be seen as source of inspiration for collectors while drawing a roadmap for a new generation of art collectors or enthusiasts who would like to start a collection of their own.


The exhibition was followed by a professionally produced Collectors’ Stories book under CI Publications, CI’s new initiative, which aims to support art publishing, artist books and artculture magazines. The first production of CI Publications, Collectors’ Stories book was edited by Prof. Hasan Bülent Kahraman. Gathering photographs and information about the collections and works, the book was the first of its kind to document contemporary works in private collections in Turkey. Collectors drew up short texts regarding their collections and their personal motivation for collecting. Genuine stories gripped the attention of readers on a universal level and provide an interesting ground for anyone curious about finding out a well-presented documentation of Turkish contemporary art scene.

The book also expressed the value of love towards contemporary art and artistic value of the leading collectors of Turkey. Collectors’ Stories book was distributed internationally and sent to leading institutions and galleries worldwide.

Contributing collectors and collections include: Leyla Alaton, Ahmet Aral, Mine & Cem Bahadır, Mehmet Ali Bakanay, Berrak & Nezih Barut, Rezzan Benardete, Hanzade & Osman Boyner, Dr. Şükrü Bozluolçay, Büyükkuşoğlu Family Collection, Bilge & Haro Cümbüşyan, Banu & Hakan Çarmıklı, Demet & Cengiz Çetindoğan, Suzan Sabancı Dinçer, Ayşe & Saruhan Doğan, Gülin & Emre Dökmeci, Elif Dürüst, Oya & Bülent Eczacıbaşı, Tansa Mermerci Ekşioğlu, Sevda & Can Elgiz, Nesrin Esirtgen, Özlem & Naim Gençoğlu, Zeynep & Fırat Gönenç, Emine & Selim Gülçelik, Asuman & Hüsnü Güreli, Cem Hakko, Can Has, Emin Hitay, Huma Kabakcı, Ayşegül & Doğan Karadeniz, Hatice & Ferit Meriçten, Ari Meşulam, Naim Nihmet, Fazlı Özcan, Önder Öztarhan & Kaan Boyner, Murat Özyeğin, Ayşegül & Ömer Özyürek, Leyla Pekin, Arzu & Ömer Sabancı, Sevil Sabancı, Vuslat & Ali Sabancı, Melis & Hakan Salargil, Ali Selçuk, Erol Tabanca, Türkan & Ziya Tacir, Lucette & Mustafa Taviloğlu, Banu Vargı Tümay – Büyük Efes Art Collection, Agah Uğur, Ayşe Umur, Freda & İzak Uziyel, Murat Ülker, Şebnem & Mahmut Ünlü, Ergin Varlıbaş, Erdinç Varlıbaş, Selim Varol, Tony Ventura, Şirin & Neşet Yalçın, Arzuhan & Mehmet Ali Yalçındağ, Zafer Yıldırım, Cem Yılmaz.


Istanbul is internationally regarded as one of the most vibrant cities in the world, where art and culture play a major role in the dynamism of this transcontinental center. Artists, museums, galleries, biennales, art fairs, festivals, among others, have contributed to build such energy. But one of the most remarkable aspects of this vibrant art scene lies certainly in the quality, boldness, creativeness and vitality of its collectors. They are one the most dedicated and enthusiastic driving forces that define the strength of a megalopolis regarded as the city of the future. Who are these respected collectors? What do they collect? For what reasons? What drives them to build collections meant to enrich their own life? And most important: what kind of relationships each of these collectors are drawing with the works they acquire, with the artists they meet, with gallerists, writers, curators

and other passionate people they regularly encounter in their quest of finding the ultimate work?

These questions lie in the heart of the ambitious project CI is launching this year at the occasion of the CI Art Fair held this November from November 2nd to 6th 2016. This exhibition will unveil works from the most highly regarded collectors from Istanbul, with a specific focus on the personal stories between the collectors and their works. The scope of this project is very ambitious as it aims to rely on the participation of 60 collectors. Such a project has never been realized yet, and it will certainly constitute a milestone in the city’s art history, establishing a strong statement not only on the quality of its collectors but also on the ability of generating solidarity, unity and energy around a common passion that goes far beyond personal taste and convictions.

Marc-Olivier Wahler
Artistic Advisor, Contemporary Istanbul