Why St Moritz is on a cultural high

Peripatetic collectors’ fair Nomad is about to open in the Swiss town, joining new permanent art galleries Hauser & Wirth and Muzeum Susch

Badrutt's Palace hotel, St Moritz
Badrutt's Palace hotel, St Moritz

Now, thanks to the appetite for travel that combines escapism and relaxation with cultural stimulation, St. Moritz has become a top destination for art aficionados once more. On 6th– 9th February 2020, collectable contemporary art and design fair Nomad returns to the Swiss town for the third year. For four days only, leading galleries will transform the interior of one of Switzerland’s most extraordinary mountain residences, the 16th-century alpine mansion Chesa Planta, each curating a room or an installation, bringing together traditional craftsmanship, 20th-century pieces and contemporary art and design from around the world.

‘Objects of desire’ series by Liselotte Watkins for Established & Sons
‘Objects of desire’ series by Liselotte Watkins for Established & Sons
Established & Sons

The brainchild of luxury brand consultant Giorgio Pace and gallerist Nicholas Bellavance-Lecompte, the concept behind the travelling exhibition, which has previously touched down in Monaco and Venice, is to create a more intimate, personal and memorable experience beyond that of the expansive trade show, as well as to present pieces in an architectural context. Although primarily targeted at professionals, the public can register to visit. Encompassing a roster of global galleries, it will also feature a series of projects presented by companies including Established & Sons (whose collection will include vessels by Liselotte Watkins, above), Fornasetti and The Invisible Collection (featuring coffee tables by Louise Lilencrantz, below) to name but a few.

Coffee tables by Louise Lilencrantz for The Invisible Collection
Coffee tables by Louise Liljencrantz for The Invisible Collection
The Invisible Collection

There are also a couple of permanent spaces that collectors and visitors to the fair shouldn’t miss. December 2018 saw celebrated Swiss gallerists Hauser & Wirth open their ninth outpost in Palace Galerie, a space belonging to St. Moritz’s legendary five-star hotel Badrutt’s Palace (above), whose penthouse was for some time during the 1970’s home to playboy Gunter Sachs, plus his extensive pop art collection including pieces by Yves Klein and Allen Jones, a personalised Roy Lichtenstein bath panel and all ten of Andy Warhol’s Marilyns.

‘Objects of desire’ series by Liselotte Watkins for Established & Sons
‘Objects of desire’ series by Liselotte Watkins for Established & Sons
Established & Sons

The work of Paris-based Argentinian architect Luis Laplace who also converted a series of 18th-century farm buildings into exhibition spaces at the super-gallery’s Somerset location, this latest incarnation could be described as a homecoming for co-founder Iwan Wirth who spent much of his childhood exploring the Engadin valley with his father. A solo exhibition of works by Alexander Calder (above) launched the gallery’s second winter season and runs until 9 February 2020, while next up is an exhibition by American conceptual artist Charles Gaines, which opens a week later on 16 February.

Museum Susch
Museum Susch

Another addition to the burgeoning art scene is Muzeum Susch (above) founded by Polish entrepreneur and contemporary art collector Grażyna Kulczyk. Just 40 minutes drive from St. Moritz, over 1,500 square metres of gallery space is housed in a 12th-century former monastery and a 19th-century brewery, both of which have been sympathetically restored and expanded by Zurich-based architects Voellmy Schmidlin Architektur.

Inside Museum Susch
Museum Susch

Completed in January 2019, 9000 tons of rock were excavated from the hillside to carve out an airy complex that includes a restaurant, headquarters and an exhibition space designed to showcase site-specific permanent artworks and a programme of temporary exhibitions and performance programmes, the first of which, A Woman Looking at Men Looking at Women was devised by Kasia Redzisz, senior curator at Tate Liverpool. Taking the work of the late American artist Carolee Schneemann as a starting point, the current exhibition Up to and Including Limits: After Carolee Schneemann features over 60 works by 13 artists and collectives from the 1980s to the present-day and runs until 28th June 2020.

For more information see: Nomad, Hauser & Wirth, Muzeum Susch

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