TBA21 and Thyssen-Bornemisza Foundation, and the generations of famous personalities behind one of the most significant collections and institutions
Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary (TBA21) is an international art and advocacy foundation created in 2002 by the philanthropist and collector Francesca Thyssen-Bornemisza, representing the fourth generation of the Thyssen family’s commitment to the arts and public service.
The Thyssen family has notable members, all of whom descend from Friedrich Thyssen, who have established steel works, elevators and escalators, industrial conglomerates, banks, and art collections – Thyssen AG, ThyssenKrupp and ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems. Originating from Germany, family members have taken up residence in various countries.
Baroness Francesca von Thyssen-Bornemisza, formerly Francesca von Habsburg-Lothringen, is an art collector. By birth, she is a member of the House of Thyssen-Bornemisza. She is the former wife of Karl von Habsburg, current head of the House of Habsburg-Lorraine. “The Peggy Guggenheim of Vienna,” as she has been called, for the years 2004 and 2009-18, Baroness was listed on the Top 200 art collectors under her married name, Francesca von Habsburg.
The TBA21 Foundation, based in Madrid and Vienna, stewards the TBA21 Collection and its outreach activities: exhibitions, public programming and partnerships with other cultural and civic institutions. In 2011 TBA21 established TBA21-Academy, a cultural ecosystem fostering a deeper relationship and respectful attitude to the Ocean through the lens of art to inspire care and action. The Academy became a centre for collaborative research, artistic production and educational platform, bringing together art and science, resulting in exhibitions, research and interventions.
The world knows another collection of the family, which is stored in Spain. What started at the beginning of the last century as a private art collection, is now the Thyssen-Bornemisza National Museum in Madrid, Spain. It is known as part of the "Golden Triangle of Art", which also includes the Prado and the Reina Sofía national galleries. The museum is named after its founder, Baron Thyssen-Bornemisza de Kászon (the grandfather of Francesca), a German-Hungarian entrepreneur and art collector. He began his own private collection in the 1920s, acquiring a number of masterpieces during the Great Depression which were kept in the family home in the Swiss town of Lugano. His son continued collecting his father's collection and opened it to the public. In 1993 the collection was purchased for $350 million by the Spanish government and became one of the main museums in Madrid under the name of the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum.
Acquired by the Spanish state, the privately assembled Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection was designed from the very beginning to become a museum collection. Its holdings provide an overview of Western painting and cover most European and American styles from the 14th to the 20th century. Considering that the paintings were purchased over the course of only 2 generations and number no more than 1,000, many of them are masterpieces.