|Founded at||Cologne, Germany|
Galerie Gmurzynska is an art gallery based in Zurich, Switzerland, that specializes in modern and contemporary art and work by the Russian avant-garde. Founded in 1965 in Cologne, Germany, by Antonina Gmurzynska, among its first exhibitions were works by David Burliuk and notably the Russian avant-garde. It became a popular venue for international collectors seeking Russian art that was banned by the Soviet regime. Antonina's daughter took over the business upon her mother's death in 1986, together with her business partner Mathias Rastorfer. The gallery relocated to Zurich in 2005 and now has additional branches in Zug and St. Moritz. The gallery is noted for publishing books and catalogues for its exhibitions. It has shown works by Fernando Botero, Joan Miró, Pablo Picasso, Liubov Popova, and Alexander Rodchenko, among others.
The gallery buys and sells mostly works by modern and contemporary artists. Occasionally it sells pieces at art fairs by better-known artists such as Pablo Picasso, Kurt Schwitters, Fernand Leger, Lyonel Feininger, Robert and Sonia Delaunay, Sylvester Stallone and Fernando Botero. The gallery works with the estates of Yves Klein, Wifredo Lam, Louise Nevelson, and Robert Indiana among others; it also represents the artwork of fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld, the architect Richard Meier and actor Sylvester Stallone.
The gallery was founded in 1965 in Cologne, Germany by Antonina Gmurzynska, a Polish immigrant who worked in a museum before her move. It held an exhibition of Japanese art in its first year. The following year, the gallery presented the work of David Burliuk. Until 1971, the gallery's program focused on the Russian avant-garde. Gallery founder Antonina Gmurzynska reportedly developed contacts with the artists' families, and snuck artwork that was banned by the Soviet regime out of Russia. According to Artnet, Galerie Gmurzynska became the "go-to place for Russian art for international collectors". When it relocated to Zurich, the gallery opened in the same building that held the first exhibition of Dadaist art.
Galerie Gmurzynska made its name as a supplier of avant-garde Russian art to Western collectors. From December 1979 to March 1980, the Galerie exhibited Künstlerinnen der russischen Avantgarde/Women Artists of the Russian Avante-Garde 1910-1930, the first exhibition in the West to concentrate on the work of female Russian avant-garde artists. The exhibition included the work of Liubov Popova and Varvara Stepanova.
Krystyna Gmurzynska took over the Cologne gallery with her business partner Mathias Rastorfer following her mother Antonina's death in 1986. Krystyna's daughter, Isabelle Bscher, is also involved with the gallery.
In 1993 the gallery's owners were involved in the removal of a major collection of documents, drawings and paintings by Russian Futurist artists estimated at around £100M belonging to Nikolai Khardzhiev and his wife Lidia Chaga. Khardzhiev had been invited by Dutch academic Willem Weststeijn to visit the University of Amsterdam in 1992; Khardzhiev proposed he relocate to the Netherlands and leave the collection with the university. Weststeijn contacted Galerie Gmurzynska to move the collection out of Russia. The gallery arranged the packing and move of some of the couple's possessions to Amsterdam. Half of their documents archive was seized by Russian customs officials at Moscow airport. The gallery told The New York Times it had advanced the couple $2.5 million to relocate to Amsterdam and facilitated sale of art after it left Russia, in return receiving six works by Malevich. It denied taking part in smuggling; subsequently filing suits against news organizations and art critics it alleged had inaccurately reported the events surrounding the Khardzhiev incident.
1993 saw The Other Reality exhibit by Frank Kupka, followed by two exhibits by Yves Klein in 1994 and 1995, named Le Dépassement de la Problématique de l'Art and The Spiritual in Art respectively. Rebellion Against Form by Joan Miró was exhibited in 1998. Spatial Constructions from Alexander Rodchenko and Naum Gabo were exhibited by the gallery in 2001. An Andy Warhol and Yves Klein exhibit, Natural – Unnatural was shown in 2002.
In 2005, the gallery relocated from Cologne to Switzerland and opened a gallery on Zürich's Paradeplatz. The gallery arranged with the building's owner to restore the facade, built in 1880, to its original style with large windows. The windows are glazed with armoured glass. The gallery publishes books and catalogues for its exhibitions. This same year, the gallery participated in the Art Basel Miami Beach, during which its Yves Klein fire drawing from its Cologne gallery was valued at $1.6 million.
In 2007 New York dealer Asher B. Edelman loaned a work by American painter Robert Ryman, Courier I, to Galerie Gmurznyska for exhibition. Edelman claimed the work was later returned damaged. In 2009, a U.S. district court judge awarded Edelman a default judgment of $765,000. Later that year, four of the Galerie's paintings were seized and held for two days until the Galerie paid the judgment and the works were returned to the exhibition at Art Basel Miami Beach. The paintings were by Yves Klein, Fernand Léger, Joan Miró and Edgar Degas and were valued at over $15 million. According to The Wall Street Journal, the gallery was in the process of disputing Edelman's claim with its insurer and did not know about the court order. The gallery claimed it did not know about the lawsuit, which was won by default, and denied fault and described it as a "dispute between two insurance companies" in a statement to Blouin Artinfo.
In 2010, the gallery held an exhibition entitled Zaha Hadid and Suprematism, which was designed and curated by Hadid and Patrik Schumacher. The installation was designed to be viewed through the gallery's window on Paradeplatz. Works displayed at the exhibition included Kazimir Malevich's Red Square: Painterly Realism of a Peasant Woman in Two Dimension, as well as paintings by Ilya Chashnik and Alexander Rodchenko. The exhibit placed the influence of the Russian artists with Hadid's work; it was the first exhibition to connect Hadid with Suprematism art, according to Wallpaper*.
Hadid collaborated with the gallery for a second time in 2016 for an exhibition dedicated to Kurt Schwitters, Kurt Schwitters: Merz, to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the dada art movement in Zurich. The exhibit took cues from Schwitters' Merzbau, or room-sized "living collage". However, Hadid died before completing the exhibit, and her design firm, Zaha Hadid Architects completed the project. The exhibit was recreated at the gallery's Art Basel booth that year. At the suggestion of Hadid before her death in March 2016, the gallery made a $36,000 contribution to the Littoral Arts Trust for the conservation and maintenance of Schwitters' Merz Barn in Langdale, Cumbria in the UK. The barn contained Schwitters' unfinished work.
The gallery was the first to exhibit collages created by American architect Richard Meier in Europe. Meier had mentioned in conversation to Isabelle Bscher, daughter to gallery owner Krystyna Gmurzynska, that he made collages, and Isabelle, Krystyna and Mathias Rastorfer visited Meier in his New York City apartment where the art was stored. In 2013, the trio hosted shows of Meier's work in Zurich and Zug from October to December 2013. In October 2014, a show entitled Richard Meier: Collages opened at the State Russian Museum, at the Stroganov Palace in St. Petersburg. Meier's collages were also featured at the gallery's exhibit at Art Basel Miami Beach; he also designed the gallery's booth at the show.
In 2013, the gallery came under investigation by the Swiss Federal Customs Administration regarding VAT on imported artworks worth Fr.85 million supplied to the Dolder Grand Hotel, owned by Urs Schwarzenbach. Schwarzenbach was found to be guilty of illegally importing the works and paid the VAT of Fr.10 million; however, he objected paying a fine of Fr.4 million.
At the 2014 Art Basel in Miami Beach, to celebrate their 50th anniversary, the gallery's booth was designed by film director Baz Luhrmann, costume designer Catherine Martin and music producer Nellee Hooper. The exhibition was titled A Kid Could Do That!. It featured the masterworks of 20th century abstract artists Joan Miró, Kazimir Malevich, Wilfredo Lam, Cy Twombly and Fancis Bacon.
In February 2016, the gallery exhibited CHRISTO & Jeanne-Claude - Works in Progress. Known mainly for their large-scale outdoor installations, the works shown in the gallery were part of projects including The Mastaba (Abu Dhabi), Over the River (Colorado), and Floating Piers (Lake Iseo in Northern Italy) — represented through sketches, drawings and photo collages.
Later that year, the State Russian Museum in St Petersburg and Galerie Gmurzynska collaborated on a retrospective of Robert Indiana's work, To Russia with Love (the gallery had its own exhibit featuring Indiana's work in December 2014). During August 2016, the gallery held 20th Century American Masters, highlighting the influence of 20th century American artists, with works of Robert Indiana as well. October 2016 saw the Mel Ramos exhibit spanning his entire career at the Zug branch.
The gallery, which shows part of its collection at Art Basel in Hong Kong and previously had done so in its predecessor, Art HK, expressed interest in opening an additional location in the city.
Exhibited artists have included:
- Igor Baskakov
- Rudolf Bauer
- Fernando Botero
- Anatol Brusilovsky
- Ronnie Cutrone
- Boris Ender
- Maria Ender
- Xenia Ender
- Haas Brothers
- Zaha Hadid
- Robert Indiana
- Allen Jones
- Yves Klein
- Robert Klippel
- Frank Kupka
- Karl Lagerfeld
- Wifredo Lam
- Mikhail Larionov
- Jani Leinonen
- Kazimir Malevich
- Richard Meier
- Joan Miró
- Louise Nevelson
- Pablo Picasso
- Alexander Rodchenko
- Kurt Schwitters
- David Smith
- Sylvester Stallone
- Varvara Stepanova
- Nikolai Suetin
- Tom Wesselmann
- Kurt Schwitters: Merz (2016)
- Robert Indiana: To Russia With Love (2016)
- Christo and Jeanne-Claude: Works in Progress (2016)
- Sylvester Stallone: Véritable Amour. Peintures 1975-2015 (2015)
- BoteroSutra (2014)
- A Kid Could Do That! (2014)
- Robert Indiana: 50 Years of LOVE, Monumental Sculptures at 45 Park Lane (2014)
- Richard Meier: Timepieces (2014)
- Karl Lagerfeld (2013)
- Zaha Hadid and Suprematism (2012)
- Wifredo Lam (2012)
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- Yves Klein; Greta Tüllmann; Rotraut Klein-Moquay; Hannah Weitemeir; Galerie Gmurzynska; Pierre Restany (1994). Yves Klein: Le depassement de la problematique de l'art : 29. Oktober 1994-28. Januar 1995. Galerie Gmurzynska.
- Patricia Juncosa Vecchierini (2008). In their own words. CENDEAC. pp. 783–. ISBN 978-84-96898-36-3.
- Aleksandr Mikhaĭlovich Rodchenko (1 January 2002). Alexander Rodchenko: Spatial Constructions. Distributed Art Pub Incorporated. ISBN 978-3-7757-1178-4.
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