Heiner Friedrich (c) Stadt Traunreut, photo Gastager, R. Winkler
Heiner Friedrich "has put Traunreut on the world map of modern art and, as an art lover and museum founder, has made a significant contribution to public well-being," said the Bavarian Premier, Dr Markus Söder, about the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic with Ribbon for the museum founder Friedrich. Söder himself did not want to leave it as a purely Bavarian honour, and had proposed Friedrich directly to the President of the Federal Republic for the award in view of his long-since legendary services to contemporary art.
Already as a young gallery owner in the 1960s, Heiner Friedrich surprised the Munich public with, at that time, still comparatively unknown artists such as Gerhard Richter, Andy Warhol, Georg Baselitz and Cy Twombly, who today are ranked among the world's top artists. The story of his galleries in Munich, Cologne and New York, published by the Central Archive for the International Art Trade on the basis of the Gallery Friedrich’s significance as "one of the Western world’s leading avant-garde galleries" in a double volume in 2013, reads like a Who's Who of modern art that today is out of print. Even more intensive, effective and ahead of its time were Friedrich's permanent installations of contemporary art through the Dia Art Foundation that he co-founded in the United States. It maintains museums, foundations and permanent loans worldwide, also enabling monumental land art projects such as Walter De Maria's "Lightning Field" in the desert of New Mexico and Joseph Beuys‘ project "7000 Oaks" in Kassel.
"For Bavaria, the establishment of the foundation, DASMAXIMUM KunstGegenwart Traunreut, in 2010, and the museum's opening in 2011 signify a happy event," the former Director-General of the Bavarian State Painting Collection, Prof Dr Klaus Schrenk, stated in giving reasons for awarding the Order of Merit. "For, with this museum of the highest international rank, Heiner Friedrich has once more set high standards. He has created in Traunreut, this young industrial town struggling for cultural identity, a radiant place for art." And there he has also realized his most important concept: creating artistic spaces that can be experienced in peace and presence through art itself, without mediation by any spectacular event.