Living with Matisse, Picasso and Christo: Theodor Ahrenberg and His Collections
Monte Packham and Carrie Pilto
Living with Matisse, Picasso, and Christo explores one of the most ambitious and idiosyncratic – yet largely unknown – private collections of 20th-century Western art, and its complex, charismatic creator Theodor ‘Teto’ Ahrenberg (1912–89). Containing over 6,000 artworks acquired between the late 1940s and late 1980s, the collection featured, throughout its dramatic existence, key works by artists as distinguished and diverse as Picasso, Matisse, Chagall, Le Corbusier, Olle Bærtling, Sam Francis, Öyvind Fahlström, Tadeusz Kantor, Lucio Fontana, Christo, Jean Tinguely and Niki de Saint Phalle.
Ahrenberg’s ever-renewing collection was shaped by his commitment to the changing notion of contemporary art, his dedication to young and marginalized artists, his intuition, and a self-declared conviction that he was not merely a collector but a ‘catalyst’ – one who facilitated exhibitions, collaborations and commissions, and who employed art as an instrument against conservatism and complacency. Ahrenberg passionately believed in personally meeting those artists whose works he acquired, and he accordingly established rich, long-term friendships that transcended the conventional artist-collector dynamic.
Living with Matisse, Picasso, and Christo, the first monograph on Ahrenberg’s fascinating collection and life, draws on a wealth of personal correspondence between Ahrenberg and ‘his’ artists, and presents much previously unpublished visual material including artworks, photographs and architectural plans