A collection of clothes spread throughout the room: one of the few surviving reform clothes, presumably designed by Henry van de Velde, textiles from the studios of Jill Sander and Karl Lagerfeld. Partly wrapped around mannequins, a painting of …
A collection of clothes spread throughout the room: one of the few surviving reform clothes, presumably designed by Henry van de Velde, textiles from the studios of Jill Sander and Karl Lagerfeld. Partly wrapped around mannequins watching “the introduction of a young novice to the choir of the Capuchin convent of Santa Clara in Rome”, a painting by François Marius Granet from the first third of the 19th century. Picasso’s dove of peace silkscreened on cotton fabric, designed for the World Festival of Youth and Students in East Berlin in 1951, can speak to the not always peaceful Martin Luther in a painting by Lucas Cranach the Elder 16th century. Works of classical modernism by Johannes Itten, Max Beckmann, Max Pechstein not far from an 18th century oil painting by Giovanni Battista Piazetta, a little further a Gothic child’s throne and a child’s harp, formerly owned of the Roth-schild family, from 1780.
The latter tells quite well the collector who put together this unusual collection, which can be seen today at the Rochsburg Castle Museum. August Ohm, born in Berlin in 1943, lives as a painter and draftsman in Hamburg. Even as a child, he painted, drew … and just collected. He came from an artistically open-minded family who often visited museums. He saw a children’s harp in an exhibition in Munich in the 1950s, which he particularly liked. It came from a Viennese museum. When the Austrian state had to “reluctantly”, according to August Ohm, return their works of art to the Rothschilds 40 years later, parts of the banking family’s assets were auctioned off in London. Among others, the children’s harp, for which Ohm won the contract. By this time, the artist had long since built up his own collection which, unlike most museums, is not devoted to sections, but to a summary of the different arts. August Ohm had always oriented in his own artistic work and also as a collector on the ideas of the romantic Novalis, “his ideas of holism – of synopses of arts, works, regions”. Thus, over the decades, August Ohm has built up an impressive collection of around 1,500 objects from the most varied arts: paintings, drawings, sculptures, fashion, musical instruments, small furniture. They should each reflect the spirit of an era – from the Middle Ages to the present day.
Part of this collection – around 70 pieces – is now chronological, for example under the headings “From reminiscences and revolutions: the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries from classicism to romanticism” and “From presumption, destruction and reconstruction: the time of the turn of the Century at the end of the 1950s ”, exhibited at Rochsburg Castle. The special exhibition is meant to be just the start. A cooperation contract with the museum promises a loan of 1,000 pieces for at least 25 years after its renovation, and that is “not the end of the mast,” says Ohm. The collection could then be presented on three floors in a permanent exhibition, and its concept should also take on its full meaning. In the current exhibition, the individual objects are explained in detail, but they stand and hang in a confined space rather next to each other than to initiate a dialogue. However, it could be extremely interesting if, in addition to artistic developments in the different fields, it also includes social, political and economic contexts and thus shows art as an expression of revolt, arrest and restoration. He came to Rochsburg through an acquaintance, so August Ohm, and he immediately met interested partners.
August Ohm never gave up collecting as a child – on the contrary, it became a passion for him. Some things “stole” from him with donations, others he struggled for years. He funded the collection, which also contains some photos of him and his father Wilhelm Ohm, with income from his own artistic production: on a cruise, never spent three weeks on the beach on the beach. It is the competition of pleasures. And here and there the collection grows further: “If I see two things and one thing, it’s basically the middle piece – then something else is added.
The exhibition “From Cranach to Karl Lagerfeld – Treasures of the August Ohm Foundation” is visible at Rochsburg Castle until October 31, open Tuesday to Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm.