The Art World Works From Home: German Art Collector Julia Stoschek Is Digitizing Her Collection and Baking Chocolate Cake

The art world may be working remotely, but it certainly does not stop. We're checking in with art-world professionals to see how they work from home.

Julia Stoschek.
Julia Stoschek.

The art world may be on lockdown, but it certainly does not stop. During this unprecedented time, we’re checking in with art-world professionals, collectors, and artists to get a glimpse into how they are working from home.

The prominent German art collector Julia Stoschek is known for her focus on time-based work, and video art in particular. Since launching her public collection in 2007, Stoschek has mounted numerous acclaimed exhibitions, including solo presentations of work by artists such as Elaine Sturtevant and Arthur Jafa. Starting last year, she also started sharing works from outside her collection at her venues in Düsseldorf and Berlin.

Now that physical exhibition spaces are closed to the public, Stoschek is working to ensure that many of the works in her collection are now available online, including video works by Wolfgang Tillmans, Barbara Hammer, and Cao Fei.

Read on to learn how the collector is spending her time these days, which online art platforms she’s tuning into, and how she’s cultivating her newest hobby, baking.

Where is your new “office”?

To be perfectly honest, I spend a lot of time in the collection, which is now closed to public, of course. There I have my peace and quiet and can think and work conceptually. At the moment, we have regular team Zoom meetings and I have once again found that we are an excellent team.

Courtesy of Julia Stoschek.

What are you working on right now (and were any projects of yours interrupted by the lockdown)?

We are making the collection accessible online, this is our main project at the moment. There are more than 850 works in my collection to date and we are trying to show as many of them as possible online. This is an offer for the friends of our collection who would like to view the works, but unfortunately are not allowed to do so at the moment due to the circumstances. I believe art must be accessible at any time and it was always a vision of mine to put the collection online. We have already uploaded more than 60 selected works onto to our website. We receive daily inquiries from all over the world.

Because of the pandemic, I’m also producing a video series on Instagram called “Julias’s Most Wanted,” in which I personally present my favorite works from the collection that can already be streamed online.

How has your work changed now that you are doing it from home?

Since I have the luck to be able to work out of the collection, I can easily separate my private life from work. At home, I am 100 percent mother and take care of my son. However, I have noticed that due to technology I communicate almost as closely and frequently within the team as before. I like that.

The foyer of the JSC Berlin, which has been closed to the public. Photo: Robert Hamacher, Berlin.

What are you reading, both online and off?

I read the news online during the day. That is unavoidable. I also enjoy reading the blog Ribbonfarm by Venkatesh Rao because it offers unusual takes on both familiar and new themes.

Sitting down and reading the newspaper is an offline pleasure. Same with a book. Probably the most spectacular one this year was Hilma af Klimt’s biography, written by the former editor of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Julia Voss. A wonderful book about a fascinating and inspiring woman.

Have you visited any good virtual exhibitions recently? 

I like following what Johann König is doing with his gallery online during these times. I also liked “Platform,” a gallery initiative put up by David Zwirner to exhibit work online. It’s very clear and thought through. 

What is the first place you want to travel to once this is over?

I have an unquenchable longing for Israel. For the people, the hospitality, the sounds, and the smell of the kitchen. Sometime ago we had an exhibition in Tel Aviv which was very well received by the public. Many warm encounters from that time turned into real friendships. I am very grateful for this.

Britta Thie, Three Infomercials (2016), one of the works from the Stoschek Collection currently available online. Courtesy of the Stoschek Collection.

If you are feeling stuck while self-isolating, what’s your best method for getting un-stuck?

It helps me to know that the people around me are always there for me, and I for them. The poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe wrote a classic called The Elective Affinities (Die Wahlverwandtschaften). I think that’s quite true.

What was the last TV show, movie, or YouTube video you watched?

Unfortunately, I rarely get the chance to watch movies. But I actually like movies and well-done documentaries very much. I recently rediscovered Orson Welles’s Citizen Kane. I had forgotten the plot because it had been some time since I saw the film for the first time. When you consider that the film was made in 1941 and how topical it still is today, you know what a great filmmaker Welles was.

If you could have one famous work of art with you, what would it be? 

I have my favorite famous artists at home already, like Sigmar Polke, Stephen Mueller, and works by Isa Genzken and Wolfgang Tillmans. I am very grateful for this.

Have you taken up any new hobbies?

My collection is my vocation. We have two locations, one in Berlin and one in Düsseldorf, that need to be maintained. So there is little time for other passions. But I recently got into baking!

Chocolate cake. Photo by Goran Kosanovic for The Washington Post via Getty Images.

Favorite recipe to cook at home?

Best chocolate cake in the world:

  • 200g Butter
  • 200g bittersweet chocolate (min 70% cacao)
  • 4 eggs
  • 200g almonds
  • 200g sugar
  • 1 package vanilla sugar
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • ½ package of baking powder
  • Icing sugar to decorate

First, melt the butter with the chocolate. Then, mix this with all the other ingredients and put the dough in the oven for 40 minutes at 320 degrees Fahrenheit. Very easy, but amazing. 

What are you most looking forward to doing once social distancing has been lifted?

Going out dancing. Going out to eat. Meeting friends—everything that I like to do with other people. It’s just that simple.


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