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Achim Sommer

(b Leipzig, Dec 20, 1921).

German dentist and collector. He developed an interest in fine art as a boy, but immediately after completing his schooling in 1940 he was called up for military service and taken prisoner of war, which ruled out the possibility of studying history of art. He trained as a dentist from 1948 to 1955, setting up his own practice in 1959 and establishing himself at Markgröningen, near Stuttgart, in 1965. Sohm began in the early 1960s to establish a systematic and historically important documentary collection covering all forms of performance art (especially those associated with Fluxus and with American artists involved with Happenings), concrete poetry and ‘underground’ literature. In doing this he proceeded with positivist meticulousness, paying attention to innumerable peripheral areas and including in his archive printed material such as books, magazines, manifestos, pamphlets, invitations and other ephemera; records, tapes, films, photographs, autographs and prints; and many original works.

In its totality the Archiv Sohm highlighted, on an international scale, the blurring of boundaries between conventional media that took place during the 1960s. Sohm corresponded and travelled widely to make contact with artists and institutions. In his house in ...