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In conversation with Charles Schumann

Interview

Mr Schumann, you’ve given countless interviews in your life but you always claim that most of what has been written about you isn’t true. How should we interpret that?

I’ve never said that; I only said there were too many interviews. At some point you’ve got to stop telling stories. Because people know everything anyway and you don’t have that many new things to say.

Words such as lifestyle, luxury, fashion, bestselling author, supreme bar
culture and all those creative fields where art plays a role are associated with Charles Schumann.

A lot in art is just too much or simply ‘fashionable’. In the kitchen, many chefs claim they serve art on their plates. Often, less art would be better. Simplicity can be achieved once you can’t strip anything else away. My access to art is somewhat different, I’ve always been interested in photography and I’ve also owned a gallery for 2-3 years. I’m a friend of Mr Baselitz, but we never discussed art: never.

You once said that you had no clue about numbers, you were just lucky when it came to your business. What does ‘luck’ mean to you?

What does luck mean? Luck is, perhaps, not the right expression; it simply worked out; it could have not worked out, that would have led to our swift end. Even my collaborators didn’t find the new Schumann bar any good and that’s just not a matter of luck, but hard work, discipline, and maybe even a bit of narrow-mindedness.

Did you choose the furnishing yourself at the bar on Odeon Square in Munich and, in doing so, did you transmit your open style and character to the location?

Yes, I did, but I also collaborated with two architects, one of them opened the first Schumann bar, as well as the cafe.

A lot in Art is just too much.

If you wanted to give this location a certain energy, which works of art would you choose…

There’s plenty of people who would do such a thing, however hanging up paintings doesn’t create any energy. The energy of a place is created by the people who work there, by what is served on a plate.

It’s no big secret that you’re not a family man and somewhat of a lone wolf. Moreover, you share this with plenty of artists, because loneliness is often the key to their success. How do you spend your time when you’re alone?

Not quite, because I unfortunately spend way too much time in my activity. I actually spend way too little on my own. Too little. I’m here alone, yet not alone. I’m not so curious anymore to say things like ‘now I need to see that, that, and that.’ If it happens, great, if not I can sit somewhere else for hours without a worry in the world.

Is the bar your only passion? Has it always been that way or were there ever any alternatives?

No. I believe, and this is where I got lucky, I do and have always done that which makes me happy and is fun. I like coming here day in, day out, if I didn’t anymore then it would be high time for me to move on.

As a host, one needs to have special observation skills and extreme empathy – do you succeed in literally seeing what your guests wish for by just looking at them?

I know what people want but then, it’s also about guiding people a bit. It’s way too difficult to do so in such a big restaurant. To really exercise influence, you should be working in a tiny space.

Would you call yourself a visionary?

No, why would I be a visionary?

The whole world looks up to you!

Yes, but maybe that’s got more to do with the fact that I’m still working and I really carefully plan how my days and hours look like.

But you also said that nobody else could replicate what you do here?

Let’s not get carried away now. We were lucky to get such a big venue. I hate all the places which look the same and where a lot of money has visibly gone into them, but which have no soul. Such a location needs a soul. And it was very difficult to infuse it with a Schumann soul. Without me it probably wouldn’t have worked.

The theme of this edition is ‘OUTSTANDING’. We find you to be outstanding. What do you have to say about that?

No, I don’t think so. One part of the success has to do with me, too, maybe more than I think, but outstanding… maybe if three or four people come together and say we won’t create something outstanding, but we’ll make something special out of the ordinary.

But you’ve made something special out of your life, have you not?

Have I? Not really, no. Do you know what the problem is? We’re back again to being alone. If you do something like what I do here, you don’t really have that much time to really think about it. Take me, for example: I don’t fear death. Not one bit. I honeslty couldn’t care less. When I’m gone, I’m gone.

Let’s return to art: what do you think of our cover story about Anselm
Kiefer?

I don’t know him that well, I’d have liked to know him better. The last time he was here, I got the impression that he too, just like me, sometimes likes being alone.

More about Schumann: www.schumanns.de

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