Jean-Christophe Ammann

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Jean-Christophe Ammann (born January 14, 1939 in Berlin ; † September 13, 2015 in Frankfurt am Main ) was a Swiss art historian and curator .

life and work

Jean-Christophe Ammann, son of a chemist, grew up in a German-speaking family in Freiburg . He actually wanted to become a doctor, but after graduating from the College of St. Michael in 1959 , he studied art history , Christian archeology and German literature . In 1966 he received his doctorate on the work of Louis Moilliet at the University of Friborg . From 1966 to 1968 he worked for Harald Szeemann at the Kunsthalle Bern . He then headed the Lucerne Art Museum until 1977 . In 1971 he was the Swiss commissioner for the Paris Biennale and in 1972 worked for Harald Szeemann in the conception of documenta 5 , which "went down in exhibition history as the most interesting and influential". In 1978 he co-organized Arte Natura in the international pavilion of the Venice Biennale .

Ammann was married to the artist Judith Ammann and lived in Frankfurt am Main. He died in September 2015 after a long illness.

Kunsthalle Basel

From 1978 to 1988 he took over the management of the Kunsthalle Basel . Among other things, his starting conditions included better lighting conditions, partial removal of the wooden cladding on the walls, a continuous coat of unbroken white. Every year he showed six exhibitions with international and Swiss artists, including Gilbert & George, Martin Disler, Helmut Federle, Mario Merz and Rolf Winnewisser, which he had already presented in Lucerne. With a penchant for painting, Ammann presented Enzo Cucchi, Nicola de Maria, Francesco Clemente, Walter Dahn, Rainer Fetting, and Georg Baselitz in Basel. Miriam Cahn had her first institutional exhibition in 1983 with charcoal drawings. In 1987 he showed light installations by James Turrell "and thus opened our earth to the cosmic". In 1988 he opened the art gallery to Richard Serra , who covered the long side walls of the skylight hall with a strip of densely graffiti hatching and achieved a fantastic change in the effect of the room. His approximately 60 exhibitions in Basel followed a great diversity and were not restricted by formal or ideological boundaries. The works shown asserted themselves “... through the“ quality ”, a fixed but never entirely definable size for every art lover. For Ammann it is expressed, among other things, in the sum of the «energy» that a creative work must have. " He also made sure that a sculpture by Serra was set up in Basel's Wenkenpark. Ammann had been a member of the Emanuel Hoffmann Foundation in Basel since 1981 .

Museum of Modern Art

In 1989, Ammann moved to Frankfurt am Main , where he opened the new Museum of Modern Art designed by the Viennese architect Hans Hollein as director on June 6, 1991 . With a new form of exhibition, the "scene change" that takes place every six months and which took place twenty times with the help of private sponsors, the new museum gained international renown. When the scene changed , the museum's holdings were rearranged every six months and enriched with new additions, loans or special exhibitions. Ammann managed the hotel until the end of 2001, and was succeeded by Udo Kittelmann .

In 1995 Ammann was commissioner of the German pavilion at the Venice Biennale . From 1989 to 1997 he was chairman of the board of the Hessische Kulturstiftung , since 1992 lecturer at the universities of Frankfurt am Main and Giessen and since 1998 professor at the University of Frankfurt am Main .

In 1999, Jean-Christophe Ammann was commissioned by Deutsche Börse to build up a collection of artistic photographs . He was also a member of the advisory board of the art collection of the Swiss bank UBS . Among other things, he was curator for the exhibition Crossart. Van Gogh to Beuys in the art and exhibition hall of the Federal Republic of Germany in Bonn (2005) and In the beginning was the word ... - About language in contemporary art in the Haus der Kunst in Munich (2006; with Corinna Thierolf). Between 2010 and 2015 he curated (together with Anna Wesle) several exhibitions in the Museum Franz Gertsch in Burgdorf / Switzerland and in the Galerie Perpétuel in Frankfurt am Main.


After leaving the Museum of Modern Art in 2001, he left several works from his private collection and his collected correspondence, which was inventoried in the Jean-Christophe Ammann archive and documented 35 years of his curatorial work, to the museum .


See: List of exhibitions in Basel curated by Jean-Christophe Ammann

He curated other exhibitions (selection):


«I think that art must continue to derive its substance from the exploration of the self and from an awareness and thinking of the present. This thinking of the present is the most difficult, because I have to think the diffuse precisely and the precise diffuse. Nothing has changed at all about this commission from the artist to work in this society. "

- Jean-Christophe Ammann

honors and awards


  • Closer look. Understanding and interpreting contemporary art. Westend Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 2009, ISBN 978-3-938060-43-8 .
  • French edition: En y regardant mieux. Les Presses du Reél, Dijon, 2010, ISBN 978-2-84066397-3 .
  • An exchange of letters (with Ankalina Dahlem ). Exhibition catalog. Ed .: Galerie Bernd Slutzky, Frankfurt am Main 2001, ISBN 3-9805670-7-9
  • with Harald Szeemann : From Hodler to Antiform, History of the Kunsthalle Bern. Benteli Verlag, Bern 1970, new edition 2005.
  • Louis Moilliet. The complete work. DuMont Schauberg, Cologne, 1972.
  • with Christmut Präger: Museum of Modern Art and Ströher Collection , writings of the Museum of Modern Art, Frankfurt am Main 1992. ISBN 9783882704648
  • Movement in the head. Lindinger + Schmid, Regensburg 1993.
  • Rémy Zaugg - Conversations with Jean-Christophe Ammann. Cantz Verlag, Parkett Verlag, Stuttgart 1994.
  • with Rolf Lauter : Peter Fischli; David Weiss: Room under the stairs , writings of the Museum of Modern Art, Frankfurt am Main 1995. ISBN 9783893227617
  • Cultural funding. Lindinger + Schmid, Regensburg 1995.
  • Approximation. About the need for art. Lindinger + Schmid, Regensburg 1996.
  • Alighiero Boetti 1965-1994 , Galleria Civica d'Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Turin, 1996; Musée d'Art Moderne, Villeneuve d'Ascq, 1996-1997; Museum of Modern Art, Ludwig Foundation, Vienna, 20er Haus, 1997. ISBN 9788820211745
  • To see happiness. Art begins where taste ends. Regensburg: Lindinger and Schmid, 1998, ISBN 3-929970-35-X .
  • Robert Strübin . See music, hear pictures. Edited by the ZwischenZeit association, with a foreword by Jean-Christophe Ammann, Schwabe Verlag, Basel 2010, ISBN 978-3-7965-2699-2 .
  • Closer look. Westend Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 2007.
  • Closer look. Westend Verlag, 3rd expanded edition, Frankfurt am Main 2009.
  • En y regardant mieux. Les presses du réel, Saint-Etienne 2010.
  • Art? - Yes, art - the longing for images . Westend Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 2014.
  • Alighiero Boetti, Catalogo Generale. Electa Editore, Milan, Volume I, 2011; Volume II, 2012; Volume III / 1, 2015.
  • Alighiero Boetti, Catalogo Generale. Tomo primo, 1961–1971, Milan 2009.
  • Alighiero Boetti, Catalogo Generale. Tomo secondo, 1972–1978, Milan 2012.
  • Alighiero Boetti, Catalogo Generale. Tomo terzo, parte I, 1979–1987, Milan 2015


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Museums: Museum maker Jean-Christophe Ammann has died . Obituary by the dpa on Focus Online , September 18, 2015.
  2. Jean-Christophe Ammann, Harald Szeemann: From Hodler to the antiform. History of the Kunsthalle Bern, Bern 1970, p. 191.
  3. Sabine B. Vogel in: documenta, curriculum vitae of an institution, of May 7, 2002
  4. Mourning for Jean-Christophe Ammann - The former MMK boss has died ., September 18, 2015, accessed on September 18, 2015.
  5. ^ Annemarie Monteil: The Jean-Christophe Ammann era in the Kunsthalle Basel , Basler Stadtbuch, 1988
  6. ^ Jean-Christophe Ammann: Museum of Modern Art Frankfurt / Main. Retrieved on February 11, 2020 (German).
  7. Hans Hollein: Exhibiting, setting up, setting down. Reflections on the task of the Museum of Modern Art . in: Roland Burgard, Hochbauamt Bau Frankfurt am Main (ed.): Museum für Moderne Kunst , (series of publications by the Hochbauamt on building tasks for the city of Frankfurt am Main), Frankfurt am Main 1991, p. 16.
  8. ^ Andreas Bee: Ten Years of the Museum of Modern Art Frankfurt am Main , Cologne 2003, ISBN 3832156291
  9. ^ The care of the housefather - Jean Christophe Ammann's farewell to the MMK Frankfurt. Retrieved February 11, 2020 .
  10. ^ Online database archive Jean-Christophe Ammann
  11. Jean-Christophe Ammann passed away. ( Memento of the original from December 12, 2016 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. MMK press release of September 18, 2015 @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  12. Lucie Beppler, Anke Röhrscheid and Elly Strik in the Kunsthalle Palazzo. Retrieved May 25, 2020 .
  13. Songlines Balthasar Burkhard. Museum Franz Gertsch, accessed on May 25, 2020 .
  14. À rebours. Retrieved May 25, 2020 .
  15. Annika van Vugt: curriculum vitae. Retrieved May 25, 2020 .