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Living with Matisse, Picasso and Christo

Theodor Ahrenberg and His Collections

Monte Packham, Carrie Pilto


The first monograph on one of the most ambitious and idiosyncratic collections of 20th-century art, and its charismatic creator, Theodor Ahrenberg

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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, the collection featured 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 contemporary art, his intuition, his dedication to young and marginalized artists, 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 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life, draws on a wealth of personal correspondence between Ahrenberg and ‘his’ artists, and presents much previously unpublished visual material including artworks, photographs and architectural plans.

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'Exhilarating … an unusual, vivid volume rich in documentary photography'
Financial Times

Product Information

Book Details

Format: Hardback without Jacket

Size: 28.0 x 23.0 cm

Extent: 372 pp

Illustrations: 350

Publication date: 6 September 2018

ISBN: 9780500970607

About the Author

Monte Packham is a writer and photographer based in Munich and the author of ABC Photography.

Carrie Pilto is an independent curator and writer based in Amsterdam. Her most recent exhibitions and writings include Enrico Baj: Play as Protest, Cobra Museum for Modern Art (2017) and the forthcoming The First Million is the Hardest to Earn at the Museum Van Loon.

List of Contributors

Staffan Ahrenberg, Olivier Berggruen, Jeanette Bonnier, Professor Jean-Louis Cohen, Erling Kagge, Eberhard W. Kornfeld, Hans-Ulrich Obrist, Simon de Pury, Daniel Birnbaum