What's New on Zürich's Art Scene


At the foot of the Swiss Alps and beautifully situated on Lake Zürich, you'll find Switzerland's largest city. Zürich's well-known for its finance industry, chocolates, high end shopping, and also its incredible arts scene of over 50 museums and 100 art galleries. It's an especially welcoming city for contemporary artists and, like Basel, Zürich has become a necessary stop for arts lovers in Switzerland. Here's a preview of what's ahead this year on Zürich's art scene!

Excerpt of July 16, 2021 article below produced by Virtuoso in partnership with Zurich Tourism can be found HERE.

A recent spate of new exhibits, gallery openings, upcoming festivals, and even creatively curated hotels has put Switzerland’s largest city front and center on the global arts scene. Traditionally, Art Basel looms large in Switzerland’s contemporary arts scene, but Zürich, in addition to being a highly sustainability-minded city, is an active ally of contemporary art and architecture. “I appreciate the diversity and open-mindedness of Zürich’s art scene,” says local painter and art therapist Corina Capri. “Rather than impromptu, improvisational craft, here there’s a sophisticated cooperation between art, social life, business, and research.” As Europe reopens, now’s the time to catch this blooming in action.

This fall, the Kunsthaus Zürich will open its $220 million stand-alone annex, which was five years in the making. British design firm David Chipperfield Architects did for Zürich what Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron did for London with the Tate Modern. The building itself – one of Zürich's largest – has a stark exterior of polished vertical fins hewn from local limestone. Inside, gossamer walls, geometric staircases, and a massive foyer with an Alexander Calder mobile offer a reserved “only in Zürich” take on modernity. The space, which officially opens in October, will house the priceless 200-plus-piece Bührle Collection, featuring artworks by Picasso, van Gogh, and Gauguin, as well as post-1960 art such as choreographic installations from the likes of William Forsythe. Visitors can also attend talks and lectures in the cavernous galleries and leafy Chipperfield Garden.

The new annex is only one of four landmark buildings that make up the Kunsthaus, home to nearly 100,000 paintings and prints. Thirteenth-century rarities, Renaissance gems, and Dutch masters greet viewers alongside contemporary blue-chip pieces by Jackson Pollock, Cindy Sherman, Francis Bacon, and Alex Katz. (Bear in mind that Switzerland, roughly one-tenth the size of California, has produced an inordinate amount of well-known contemporary artists, including Sophie Taeuber-Arp, Paul Klee, Roman Signer, Urs Fischer, and many others, several of which show their art in galleries mentioned in this article.)

Just a ten-minute drive away, Löwenbräu-Areal, a nineteenth-century brick brewery-turned-quasi-industrial art complex, houses more galleries. This autumn in the complex, Kunsthalle Zürich will stage a show by New York City collective ART CLUB2000 examining youth culture, and Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst will welcome Bangkok artist Korakrit Arunanondchai, who’ll be displaying video works, expansive installations, and performances. Hauser & Wirth, which also has outposts in London, Hong Kong, Los Angeles, and Southampton, will host Argentinean video artist Mika Rottenberg and Buenos Aires painter Guillermo Kuitca.

Not to be outdone by Art Basel, Zürich Art Weekend will host its fourth edition this year. During the festival (scheduled for September 17 through 19, the weekend before Art Basel), expect an explosion of art, with guided walks and public installations. Additional events, workshops, lectures, and exhibits will take place in dozens of participating galleries and museums across the city.

As you explore town, pop into Zürich Main Station for a view of Niki de Saint Phalle’s giant purple angel (the 36-foot L’ange Protecteur weighs just over a ton) and to catch Carsten Höller’s display of blinking lights timed to incoming and outgoing trains. On Lake Zürich’s shore, the wheels and cogs of Swiss artist Jean Tinguely’s Heureka sculpture fire up three times a day. Jennings recommends continuing the art walk at top galleries Hauser & Wirth, Galerie Eva Presenhuber, and Mai 36 Galerie.

Even the city’s hotels and restaurants are in on the action. The 175-room Dolder Grand, an urban resort sitting like a chess rook atop the leafy Züriberg neighborhood, has hosted the likes of Winston Churchill, Einstein, and the Rolling Stones. Its dynamic contemporary art collection decorates the walls and extends to the spacious spa and the two-Michelin-starred Restaurant, where guests sit down to ten-course tasting menus amid pieces by Warhol, Dalí, Miró, Murakami, and others.

At the sophisticated 40-room La Réserve Eden au Lac Zürich, Philippe Starck’s recent renovation added touches such as an attic atelier restaurant full of watercolors and stained-glass works created by his daughter. Ask your Virtuoso advisor about the hotel’s partnership with local galleries and its VIP art walk with exclusive access. (Another local tip: It’s a ten-minute lakeshore walk from the hotel to the Pavillon Le Corbusier museum.)

The final experience to cash in on Zürich’s rich culture: a meal at Kronenhalle Restaurant. This century-old institution is packed with Picassos, Mirós, and Chagalls – as well as red Carrara marble tables by Giacometti and green leather sofas. The regional menu offers Chateaubriand, truffled Brie, lamb fillets, and other European dishes. Past patrons of the mahogany-clad bar include Coco Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent, James Joyce, Richard Strauss, and Roger Moore – in other words, it’s no place for peanuts and a pint. Rather, dining here feels like becoming a living, breathing work of art.

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