13/05/2020 | Silvia Anna Barrilà

Ingrid e Thomas Jochheim

The German couple exhibit their collection of Christo's works at the PalaisPopulaire in Berlin

One of the world's most complete collections of works by Christo and Jeanne-Claude is on  show in Berlin at the PalaisPopulaire, the exhibition space of the Deutsche Bank.. It is a group of works spanning from 1963 to the present day from the collection of the German couple Ingrid and Thomas Jochheim, and includes all of the most important projects by the artist couple known for wrapping sites, from "Surrounded Islands", realized in Miami in 1983 to  the 2016 "The Floating Piers", at  Lake Iseo near Brescia. The exhibition opened on the first of May and runs until August 17, 2020.

The starting point of the  exhibition is an early wrapping  the couple received as a wedding gift.  "This concept, these 'crazy' ideas of colossal dimensions, this courage fascinated us" explain Ingrid and Thomas Jochheim. "Also, Christo is a great designer, and his sketches are born from the strength of his imagination and are the unique evidence of his projects. Through his drawings Christo finances his actions, without taking a cent from  sponsors. There is no other artist who works like this".

Christo and Jeanne Claude, The Gates (Project for Central Park, New York City), 2004, Argenis Apolinario Photography, © Christo, Wolfgang Volz

The exhibition marks the 25th anniversary of the Wrapped   1995, in which Ingrid and Thomas Jochheim took part. "In the same year we visited the artists at their home in New York," they say, "immediately a friendship was born that lasts until today, unfortunately only with Christo after the premature death of Jeanne-Claude. We followed  his production and so our collection grew. The core of their work constitutes the most significant part of our collection".

Christo and Jeanne Claude, Wrapped Appliqués, 1963, © Christo

In  2017 the couple exhibited some of Christo's works from their collection at the Mönchehaus Museum in Goslar, Germany. It was there that Friedhelm Hütte, curator of the Deutsche Bank's collection, saw these works, and with him the idea of a larger exhibition to mark the anniversary of the great Reichstag project was born. The artist was supposed to be present at the opening, but it was not possible due to the Coronavirus quarantine.

Tomas Saraceno and "Abu Dhabi Mastaba (Project for United Arab Emirates)" by Christo in Ingrid and Thomas Jochheim's apartment in Berlin, photograph by Claus Rottenbacher

Robert Indiana, Love, photo by Claus Rottenbacher

Mimmo Rotella, photo by Claus Rottenbacher

Ingrid and Thomas Jochheim's art collection does not end with Christo. The couple started collecting in 1978 with the purchase of lithographs from the Wiener Schule, the Viennese School of Fantastic Realism, to decorate their home. "Initially there was no intention of creating a collection. Through contacts with artists from our region, North Rhine-Westphalia, we started to follow contemporary art," they said. Today, they live in Berlin and their collection has about 600 works. "At Art Cologne in 1985 we discovered Nouveau Réalisme, through a sculpture by Nicki De St. Phalle, and then American Pop Art. These two movements constitute the bulk of our collection today. Over the years we have also focused on the next generation, with artists such as Jonathan Meese, Olafur Eliasson, Gregor Hildebrandt, Michael Sailstorfer and many younger artists".

Bernar Venet, photo by Claus Rottenbacher

Frank Stella, Serie "Moby Dick", photo Claus Rottenbacher

Jeff Koons, Princess, photo Claus Rottenbacher

Even today the couple still buy post-war works, as well as contemporary, to complete the historical core of the collection. Some of the artists well represented in the collection areCésar and Arman. Ingrid and Thomas Jochheim own a Plexiglas sculpture by Arman containing the mail received from Pierre Restany, the theoretician of the Nouveau Réalistes, who was persuaded by Arman to entrust him with the correspondence without opening it. Among their recent acquisitions there is  a 1975 compression by John Chamberlain. Another important sculpture in the collection one by  Frank Stella from his 1986-1997  "Moby Dick" series.

The dining table with Susanne Rottenbacher's "Talk Talk", photograph by Claus Rottenbacher

Jonathan Meese, photo by Claus Rottenbacher

A sculpture by John Chamberlain, photo by Claus Rottenbacher

Purchase decisions are usually made very quickly and by mutual agreement. The emotional aspect is very important for the couple , and also their personal relationship with the artists, who they appreciate for the attention to the world and from whom they receive stimuli and knowledge that feeds their passion. A relevant work in this regard is "Talk Talk" by Susanne Rottenbacher, which is hung above their dining room table and evokes their evenings chatting about art with artists and enthusiasts. A table to which, if they could, they would invite Yves Klein for dinner.