Must see Swiss art

Modern and contemporary art in Switzerland, from Art Basel to galleries.



27 October 2014

Switzerland is much more than just chocolate and cheese, jewels and watches. It has an exceptional cultural scene, and it is a year-round hot spot for modern and contemporary art. For thousands of years, has been bringing people together. Art will always be a reflection of our times, transcending borders and language barriers. Whether you are an art collector, an enthusiast, or an investor, you will be impressed not only by the diversity of art forms in Switzerland, but also by their quality, and the professional skill of the people working in this sector.

Without doubt, Art Basel is an important event, significant for the country but also for the global art scene. The next editions will take place in Miami Beach (4-7 December 2014), Hong Kong (15-17 March 2015), and Basel (18-21 June 2015). Art Basel's fine reputation is strongly linked to the galleries showing there, carefully reviewed and selected by the show's organizers. Switzerland has many galleries offering a high-level selection of contemporary art; here are some of the highlights.

Pace Gallery, Zuoz

Pace was founded by Arne Glimcher in 1960 in Boston, and it quickly became a leading contemporary art gallery. There are already several Pace galleries in the U.S.A., Europe and Asia, and these have recently been joined by a temporary space in Zuoz, near St. Moritz. Pace Chesa Büsin, renovated by famous Engadin architecture studio Ruch & Partners, creates a unique environment combining an underground gallery with two outdoor spaces. One of the most important landmarks in Zuoz, the oldest sections of the Chesa Büsin building date from the 12th century. Three exhibitions are held every year, together with artists' talks, film presentations and other forums on the theme of art, architecture and design.

Pace Chesa Büsin, Straglia Pezzi 34, CH 7524 Zuoz. Tel. +41 (0)81 8501 103. 

Buchmann Gallery, Lugano

Buchmann Gallery Lugano
Heading south, you shouldn't miss Buchmann Gallery, founded in St. Gallen in 1975 and famous for its avantgarde shows. Buchmann championed up-and-coming artists such as the Swiss Matias Spescha and Dieter Roth who are now major personalities on the art scene. After having moved to Basel and then to Agra, Buchmann opened in a new space in Lugano in 2013. Right in the city centre, Buchman Lugano displays just a single work every six weeks. Besides careful curating, the real secret behind the gallery's success is Elena Buchmann, 'la grande dame' who loves to bring people together and share her passion for art. She has always established very close and long-lasting relations with the artists she works with. Her exhibitions and the way she presents the works are of exemplary quality.

Buchmann Lugano, Via della Posta 2, CH 6900 Lugano. Tel. +41 (0)91 9800 830.

Urs Meile, Lucerne

Urs Meile, Lucerna
In Lucerne, the famous Urs Meile Gallery, established in 1992, has been working with Asian artists for over 20 years, offering a perfect mix of Asian, European and American artworks. With a Beijing location designed by Ai Weiwei, it also helps Western artists establish a following in China by enabling them to work there for a few months at a time. It represents both established international artists and emerging figures such as Cheng Ran and Yan Xing.

Urs Meile Lucerne, Rosenberghöhe 4, CH 6004 Lucerne. Tel. +41 (0)41 4203 318.

Edwynn Houk Gallery, Zurich

If you are in Zurich and love photography, then stop to visit the famous Edwynn Houk Gallery. First founded in New York in 1980, it has always specialized in vintage photographs by leading Modernist personalities, dating from 1917 to 1939.

Another international and Swiss-based gallery in Zurich is Peter Kilchmann, which became part of Art Basel just one year after its opening. Founder Kilchmann has long been discovering young talents in various parts of the world. Twenty-two years later, his gallery remains an important hub, proof that he is a bona fide art lover!

Edwynn Houk, Stockerstrasse 33, CH 8002 Zurich. Tel. +41 (0)44 2026 925. 

Stampa, Basel

Coming back to Basel, Stampa, one of the city's top award-winning galleries, has been exhibiting international and Swiss contemporary art since its foundation in 1969 by Gilli and Diego Stampa. The exhibitions are curated in close collaboration with the artists. Besides video presentations and performances, which have been part of its programme since 1970, the gallery also holds book launches, provides art consulting services and works in cooperation with academic institutions. The Stampa bookstore is not to be missed.

STAMPA, Spalenberg 2, CH 4051 Basel. Tel. +41 (0)61 2617 910.