Expanding its footprint in a city that served as the setting for its origin story nearly 30 years ago, Hauser & Wirth—a gallery enterprise with locations in eight different cities plus plans in progress for more—will open a new exhibition space in Zurich. Beginning July 9, public programming in a building that had been renovated in 2018 for the sake of offices and private viewing rooms will add to what’s on view at Hauser & Wirth’s first gallery (in a former Löwenbrau brewery) as well as the headquarters/bookshop for Hauser & Wirth Publishers, which opened in Zürich last year.
“In a way the current situation has been part of the decision,” Iwan Wirth, president and cofounder of the gallery, said of a move made with the lasting effects of lockdown in mind. “Two years ago we fell in love with this old medieval building in a historic part of town, and we used it for private viewing as well as offices and a library.” As for the reason to make it public now: “the current need for more intimate encounters.”
“It’s complementary to the space at the Löwenbrau brewery—that is industrial and at the edge of town,” Wirth added. “This this is in the heart of town, and it’s intimate and deeply charming.” (It’s also in close proximity to Kronenhalle, his favorite restaurant in Zürich. “Diego Giacometti designed the bar,” Wirth said, “and it’s where James Joyce wrote Ulysses. You must eat the sausage, or the veal cut.”)
The decision to open Hauser & Wirth Rämistrasse—with a show devoted to Georges Vantongerloo, a Belgian artist who was a member of the De Stijl group—marks one of many such moves as mega-galleries work to situate themselves on a map that has shifted while cities have shut down and art fairs have been postponed during the global pandemic. Hauser & Wirth just last week announced the opening of another new gallery with a one-year lease in the Hamptons, where many of the art world’s top collectors—as well as other galleries including Pace, Skarstedt, and Van de Weghe—have retreated from New York City for the summer.
It also adds to Hauser & Wirth’s presence in Switzerland, where in addition to its Zürich spaces there are others in St. Moritz and Gstaad. “What’s incredible about collections in Switzerland is that there are still hidden treasures and you’re still able to find extraordinary things,” Wirth said. “Collections in Switzerland tend to be more private, so you can make real discoveries on the secondary-market side.”
As for conditions in Switzerland, to which Wirth just recently traveled from England on his first trip in 16 weeks, “You see hardly any masks, and it’s pretty much back to normal in many ways.”
Meanwhile, in New York, action is only just starting to come back—though plans remain uncertain for the grand opening of Hauser & Wirth’s new five-story, 36,000-square-foot purpose-built home (which had first been slated to open in May and then, after a postponement that was itself postponed, in September). “There are so many moving parts,” Wirth said, “that we will wait and see when it’s appropriate and safe to open.”