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life, draws on a wealth of personal correspondence between Ahrenberg and ‘his’ artists, and presents much previously unpublished visual material including artworks, photographs and architectural plans.