Presentation: Irini Miga/ Photography: Ugo Rondinone, Twelve Sunsets, Twenty Nine Dawns, All in One, Gallerie Eva Presenhuber, Zurich 2008.
Eva presenhuber, internationally renowned Zurich based gallerist will analyze why Switzerland is on the front-head of an ebullient and developing young art scene; as well as giving us an insight on the role of curators, dealers, galleries and collectors in the local art circuits.
‘I can start by just looking back. Despite the fact that Switzerland is a small country, it has produced a number of highly influential artists over the years; from Ferdinand Hodler, Giovanni Segantini, Alberto Giacometti, Dieter Roth and John M. Armleder to Peter Fischli & David Weiss, Ugo Rondinone, Urs Fischer and Valentin Carron amongst others. Therefore one can immediately begin questioning, why Switzerland has been so consistent in the quality and caliber of artists that emerge from this part of the world. One could say that historically the fact that Switzerland didn’t participate in any world war allowed for important collections to materialize; and since it’s thoroughly democratic, government has been for years very supportive in promoting culture, almost every city in the country has its own museum. Even smaller places like Glarus, St. Gallen or Aarau have exceptional museums, which make Switzerland a powerful artistic country.
Secondly, the impact of museums run by curators like Jean-Christophe Ammann and Harald Szeemann contributed enormously to the current situation. I must point out that curators in this country have generally been very proactive at supporting Swiss artists; for instance Beatrix Ruf, the curator of Kunsthalle Zurich, has been very influential with her exhibitions and support of national artists; additionally, Heike Munder, the new director of the Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst in Zurich since 2001, is organizing exceptional shows there and is also playing an important role in extending the collection of this institution.
Thirdly, the important role of dealers like Ernst Beyeler and Bruno Bischofberger and private collectors like Emmanuel Hoffman, The Bechtler family, The Ringier as well as The Burger Collection which have always been very supportive by believing and promoting national artists of the younger generations.
Fourthly, the quality of education in this country and the importance of art schools like Zurich’s ZHdK and Lausanne’s Ecal under the direction of Pierre Keller give students a high level of schooling. Moreover, students here have always had the exposure and opportunity to visit amazing shows in their country without the need of travelling abroad.
I equally believe that one of the catalysts of Switzerland’s intensified power in the art world is the colossal impact of ‘Art Basel’. This international art fair showing top – level art, annually attracts an influential global network of collectors, curators, artists, dealers and all kinds of art enthusiasts to Basel for a week’s time and this, in its own right creates a tremendous synergy and exchange of ideas between artists and their followers. Additionally, how could one forget the invaluable role played by Bice Curiger, Jacqueline Burckhardt and Dieter Von Graffenried founders of ‘Parkett’, which assisted Switzerland’s world visibility specially in the decades of the 80s and 90s’.