Rolf and Erika Hoffmann made their first discoveries in contemporary art in the 1960s while attending the early Documenta exhibitions in Kassel and visiting the Rhineland’s various museums, exhibition spaces and Kunstvereine. The Hoffmanns felt stimulated by discussions with artists about new creative ideas and works that incorporated them. It was in this environment that they found inspiration for their personal — as well as their professional — lives.
While raising a family and running a clothing company, the couple began buying art, so as to maintain direct access to the ideas and discourses of the art scene. The works they chose were by artists whom they knew personally and with whom they associated specific concepts. At the time, the idea of establishing a collection had not crossed their minds.
Things changed with the fall of the Berlin Wall when the Hoffmanns wanted to actively partake in the sweeping societal and cultural changes that came with the reunification of Germany. The couple developed the idea of a public art gallery: an exhibition space or Kunsthalle in Dresden in the form of a private-public partnership, for which the artist Frank Stella developed a daring conceptual model. When the project met with public resistence, they began to think about a completely private and thus independent project.