Gstaad! What a town, that glistening ski hamlet of billionaires in the Swiss Alps, home to $145 million chalets, $30,000 lunches, and $100,000-a-year boarding schools. If you can’t pronounce it, you have no business going there.
And like other places of extreme wealth, Gstaad is now upping its exhibition offerings to please those high-rollers who happen to play the art market. This year saw a Hauser & Wirth pop-up in town, with gigantic Alexander Calder works installed amid the by all accounts very pretty mountain scenery. The mega-gallery also collaborated with the artist Rolf Sachs to stage his work among pieces by Hauser & Wirth artists at the chalet of his father, the collector Gunter Sachs. And Siegfried Contemporary staged a show of James Franco’s paintings of birds, because that’s just how it goes down in crazy, crazy Gstaad.
It can be argued that this particular art-word incursion into Gstaad’s pricy snowcapped environs started with “Elevation 1049,” a show curated by Neville Wakefield and the artist Olympia Scarry in 2014. Funded in part by the LUMA Foundation—the Zurich-based non-profit established by the Swiss collector Maja Hoffmann—the show featured work by Ugo Rondinone, Olivier Mosset, Urs Fischer, and others.
And now that show has a sequel. “Elevation 1049: Avalanche,” a show that’s again curated by Wakefield and Scarry and supported by LUMA, will open February 3, 2017, and run through March 19. It will feature site-specific work by Allora & Caldazilla, Yngve Holen, Sarah Morris, Thomas Schütte, Douglas Gordon, and others.
“The curatorial impulse of this winter’s show is born of the unexpected and the shape-shifting interplay between form and formlessness—there is no better place than Gstaad to display these dramatic maneuvers,” Wakefield said in a release.
Scarry—whose grandfather, the children’s book illustrator Richard Scarry, was a longtime Gstaad resident—added that “the sublime and unstable nature of the project’s environment reflects and refracts simultaneously the sound and performative elements of this year’s iteration.”
That’s a lot to ponder as you sip some outrageously expensive après-ski cocktail at the Palace Hotel bar. And, by the way, it’s pronounced “kush-tat.”