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A Panorama of Contemporary Swiss Art: The Deutsche Bank Collection in Zurich


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A Panorama of Contemporary Swiss Art
The Deutsche Bank Collection in Zurich

Right in the midst of the trendy district “Züri-West” with its galleries, bars, and clubs is the 400-foot-high Prime Tower—Zurich’s new trademark and the country’s highest building to date. This is where Deutsche Bank Switzerland has had its Zurich Head Office since December 2011. Apart from the magnificent view of the city, the mountains, and the lake, the new space’s attraction also lies in its special blend of finance, art, and culture. It says something that two leading galleries are also situated in the building. The thematic focus of all of Deutsche Bank’s five floors stands entirely under the sign of contemporary Swiss art.

On the 33rd floor of the Prime Tower, the collection’s highlights join together to create a panorama that unites modern classics and newcomers: Pipilotti Rist’s psychedelic video stills and Thomas Hirschhorn’s Lighter sculptures are juxtaposed with Balthasar Burkhard’s sublime black and white photographs. Modern classics like Max Bill’s abstractions and Jean Tinguely’s playful kinetic sculptures encounter newly acquired works by the younger generation of Swiss artists. For Isabelle Krieg, Fabian Marti, and Vanessa Püntener, the medium of photography plays a key role. While Püntener documents life in the Alps, Marti’s vibrating images reference the formal language of modernism and Op Art. Working from Sybilla Merian’s botanical studies, Pia Fries creates a dialogue on the representation of nature, while Zilla Leutenegger’s watercolors poignantly capture the random everyday. On the other end of the spectrum, Franziska Furter’s dense, dynamic graphite drawings resemble pictures from an enigmatic science fiction world.

Ever since the Zurich School of Concrete and Constructive Art was founded in the 1930s, concrete art has left an indelible mark on Switzerland. Max Bill’s mathematical geometric compositions exemplify this. The floor on which Bill’s work is shown together with younger artists, such as Mayo Bucher, shows the breadth in abstract art that has developed since. On the other hand, another floor is given over to expressive movements in art: here are Martin Disler’s evocative paintings and the Art Brut-influenced works of Klaudia Schifferle, who achieved cult status as founder of the legendary girl punk band Kleenex.

Quiet Afternoon is the title Fischli & Weiss gave to their photographic series of 1984, for which they built improvised sculptures from kitchen appliances and other everyday objects. The precariously constructed objects play with order and chance in funny ways. Along with Fischli & Weiss, artists such as Not Vital and Ian Anüll are also present, both of whom work with a large number of media and materials which they separate from their everyday context.

Finally, the works from the Baviera Portfolio evince an unmistakable relationship to the Zurich scene: in it, Silvio R. Baviera—artist, writer, gallery dealer, collector, and museum founder in one—has collected works by his artist friends including H.R. Giger, André Thomkins, Urs Lüthi, and Dieter Meier, co-founder of the legendary art band Yello. In order to support Baviera’s museum project, they all contributed works on paper to the portfolio, which is now on display in the Prime Tower. But Deutsche Bank is also active in “Züri-West” beyond the presentation of the collection: in its cooperation with the Zurich Hochschule der Künste for art projects in public space, it fits right in with its new creative neighbors.

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