We collect for love, for fad, for gaining prestige to our position in the society and for permanence in time, in fact after death since art remains a symbolic value. People collect for vanity as well, but in a generous way because private collections could be open to the public. And usually people collect also as a way of investing their money, making their resources visible and tangible for.
The relation between art and money encourages consideration regarding the motive from collecting. Childhood memories regarding the collection of shells, cards, stamps and other objects in which we find intimate satisfaction. The trend for collecting reflects our desire and is related to the poetry inherent in human needs existing in all of us since we were children. The passage of time and the variety of the contest, modify the spirit of the collector who continue to express himself in a subjective way and try to fit himself to the circumstances.
Around 1900s, a lot of important art collections started to develop, encouraged by the upper class with economic resources and with sensitivity to the social matters of the world and the work that characterized their business. For example there was an industrialist family living near Zurich. Their passion and their competence supported by considerable financial assets resulted in a wonderful collection, especially of French art pieces from the nineteenth century, that today can be seen in the museum houses. In Winterthur there are the foundations of Oskar Reinhart and of Hahnloser. In the first one there are the masterpieces of Chardin, Daumier, Courbet, Ceyanne, and Van Gogh, while the second one hosts the works of art of Nabis, Bonnard and Vallotton. Arthur and Hedy Hahnloser were friends, collectors and they both had an art education. The Langmatt museum in Baden is the testimony to the trust between the Parisian merchant Ambroise Vollard and Sidney, and Jenny Brown, the owners of Brown Boveri. Their passion for art has started in 1896 in Paris during their honeymoon. Sidney and Jenny Brown, through the Swiss painter Carl Montag, was in touch with Ambroise Vollard from whom they bought a “still life” of Cézanne in the 1908. The following year they bought the first painting of Renoir and the masterpieces of Gauguin and Pissarro. Today the atmosphere of the Langmattt Museum intimately reflects the good taste of collectors.
TWO LEGENDARY STORIES
Calouste Sarkis Gulbenkian
Armenia – Lisbon
In 1969 with the heritage of the oilman and merchant Calouste Sarkis Gulbenkian from Armenia, a foundation was established in Lisbon, which had great importance for the development of Portugal during the times hostile to its the democracy education. Gulbenkian had collected a lot of artefacts: pictures, sculptures, oriental ceramics and pieces of ancient Egypt, elements of decorative arts, French mobiles, textures, jewels, and ancient books. The collections are being displayed in the two museums of contemporary and ancient art in Lisbon, while the foundations are assuring the cultural formation and the scientific research also take place with the collaboration of the London and Paris offices.
South of Switzerland – Argentina
Giovanni Bernasconi moved from Ticino to Argentina in 1855, where he crafted leather and accumulated a fortune with the fabrication of shoes and luggages in a short time. With his sons Juan and Felix, he started a commercial business in Europe. Meanwhile, he gave his daughter Maria, the care of Villa Argentina in Mendrisio where there is a big collection of Italian paintings from the nineteenth century. This is where a now-missing work of Luigi Rossi was housed. The Bernasconi family supported numerous artists and also opened a school of arts and crafts in Buenos Aires which is still open today.
Published in the hard-copy of Work Style Magazine, Winter 2009