Galerie Gmurzynska

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Galerie Gmurzynska
Galerie Gmurzynska in Paradeplatz, Zurich..tif
Formation 1965
Founder Antonina Gmurzynska
Founded at Cologne, Germany
Purpose Art gallery
Headquarters Zürich, Switzerland
Coordinates 47°22′08″N 8°32′17″E / 47.369°N 8.538°E / 47.369; 8.538Coordinates: 47°22′08″N 8°32′17″E / 47.369°N 8.538°E / 47.369; 8.538
Owners Krystyna Gmurzynska
Mathias Rastorfer

Galerie Gmurzynska is a commercial 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 Krystina took over the business upon her mother's death in 1986, together with her business partner Mathias Rastorfer. Krystyna's daughter, Isabelle Bscher, is also involved with the gallery for publicity and photograph opportunities.[1] Following difficulties with the German tax authorities, the gallery relocated from Cologne to Zurich in 2005 and now has additional branches in Zug and St. Moritz. The gallery self-publishes catalogues for promotional purposes.


The gallery represents action film celebrity Sylvester Stallone.[1] It 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, 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 and the architect Richard Meier.[citation needed]

Early years[edit]

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 developed contacts with the artists' families, and helped to smuggle artwork that was banned by the Soviet regime out of Russia.[2] 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 a building it claims to be the site of the first exhibition of Dadaist art.

1993 Smuggling of Nikolai Khardzhiev collection[edit]

The Galerie was 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.  Curator Geraldine Norman, an advisor to the State Hermitage Museum, wrote a piece for the London Daily Telegraph describing how 'Krystyna and Rastorfer went to Moscow with Professor Weststeijn [at the time a professor of the University of Amsterdam] in 1993 to meet the Khardzhievs. They drew up and signed an agreement through which Krystyna [Gmurzynska] would give the old couple $2.5 million in Amsterdam. In return she was promised four paintings and two gouaches by Malevich worth some $30 million.'  The gallery arranged the packing and removal of the couple's flat, but little of their archive ever reached them. Once in possession of the collection, Rastorfer would claim that the signed documents were merely 'letters of intent'. The case was also covered by Tony Wood in 'New Left Review'.[3] Gmurzynska filed a number of unsuccessful libel actions against many of those who helped to investigate the case.

Edelman v Gmurzynska Insurance Dispute[edit]

From 2007-2009, Galerie Gmurzynska's insurance company was involved in a dispute with dealer Asher B. Edelman. Edelman had loaned a work by American painter Robert Ryman to Galerie Gmurznyska for exhibition in 2007 and Edelman claimed the work was later returned damaged.[4] In 2009, a U.S. district court judge awarded Edelman a default judgment of $765,000. Gmurzynska and Rastorfer failed to respond and maintained that they did not know about the charges.[4] Later that year, at the Miami Beach Art Fair, four of the Gmurzynska's paintings were seized and held for two days until Gmurzynska paid the judgment.[5] The suit claimed an additional $250,000 for “willful conduct of defendant” and “reprehensible motives and such wanton dishonesty as to imply a criminal indifference to civil obligations.” The suit resulted in a default judgment for the plaintiff for about $765,000.[6]


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.[7][8] Rebellion Against Form by Joan Miró was exhibited in 1998.[9] Spatial Constructions from Alexander Rodchenko and Naum Gabo were exhibited by the gallery in 2001.[10] 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.[11] The gallery publishes books and catalogues for its exhibitions.[12] 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.[13]

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.[14] 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*.[15]

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".[16][17][18] However, Hadid died before completing the exhibit, and her design firm, Zaha Hadid Architects completed the project.[19] The exhibit was recreated at the gallery's Art Basel booth that year.[20] 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.[21]

The gallery was the first to exhibit collages created by American architect Richard Meier in Europe.[22] 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.[22] In 2013, the trio hosted shows of Meier's work in Zurich and Zug from October to December 2013.[22] 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.[23]

2013 Hotel Dolder VAT Evasion and Gallery Raid by Swiss Customs[edit]

In 2013, the gallery was raided by the Swiss Federal Customs Administration regarding VAT on imported artworks worth 85M Swiss France supplied by the Gmurzynska gallery to the Dolder Grand Hotel, owned by Urs Schwarzenbach. Documents and computers were seized as evidence while the Hotel Dolder was subject to a simultaneous raid. Gmurzynska filed a complaint in order to prevent their inspection, but the Federal Court has ruled that in a criminal investigation of this kind where there is reasonable suspicion, the prosecuting FCA can demand to see papers it considers relevant to the case. The evidence made available to journalists indicates that a sham company issuing fake bills was used to import the works via a bonded warehouse, enabling Schwarzenbach to avoid paying the required import duty.[24] The case was reported in Zurich's leading newspaper, the Neue Zürcher Zeitung.[25]

2014 - Present[edit]

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 works by twentieth-century artists such as Joan Miró, Kazimir Malevich, Wilfredo Lam, Cy Twombly and Fancis Bacon.[26][27]

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.[28][29]

The gallery had an exhibition of Robert Indiana's work in December 2014.[30] 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.[31] October 2016 saw the Mel Ramos exhibit spanning his entire career at the Zug branch.[32]


Exhibited artists have included:[33]

Selected bibliography[edit]

  • 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)


  1. ^ a b FORREST, NICHOLAS. "Find Out How Three Generations of Women Have Forged". BlouinArtInfo. BlouinArtInfo. Retrieved 11 November 2016. 
  2. ^ Norman, Geraldine. "A tragic flight to freedom". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 1 October 2015. 
  3. ^
  4. ^ a b "Seized the Day". 2010-02-04. Retrieved 2015-06-02. 
  5. ^ Pollock, Lindsay (2009-12-03). "U.S. Marshals Seize Degas, Miro Works at Miami Fair (Update1)". Retrieved 2015-06-02. 
  6. ^ "Edelman v. Gmurzynska at ABMB". Art Market Monitor. 2009-12-03. Retrieved 2017-09-10. 
  7. ^ Hans G. Kippenberg; Birgit Mersmann (21 March 2016). The Humanities between Global Integration and Cultural Diversity. De Gruyter. pp. 188–. ISBN 978-3-11-045111-5. 
  8. ^ 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. 
  9. ^ Patricia Juncosa Vecchierini (2008). In their own words. CENDEAC. pp. 783–. ISBN 978-84-96898-36-3. 
  10. ^ Aleksandr Mikhaĭlovich Rodchenko (1 January 2002). Alexander Rodchenko: Spatial Constructions. Distributed Art Pub Incorporated. ISBN 978-3-7757-1178-4. 
  11. ^ "Eröffnung der Galerie Gmurzynska am Paradeplatz: Russische Avantgarde in Zürich". Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Retrieved 2015-09-21. 
  12. ^ "Galerie Gmurzynska Publications on artnet". Retrieved 2015-09-21. 
  13. ^ Robinson, Walter. "MIAMI HEAT". Artnet. Artnet. Retrieved 11 November 2016. 
  14. ^ Heathcote, Edwin (2010-06-29). "Zaha Hadid and Suprematism, Galerie Gmurzynska, Zurich". Financial Times. ISSN 0307-1766. Retrieved 2015-09-21. 
  15. ^ BYNG, MALAIKA. "'Zaha Hadid and Suprematism' exhibition, Zurich". Wallpaper*. Wallpaper*. Retrieved 11 November 2016. 
  16. ^ Brady, Anna. "In remembrance: Zaha Hadid's plans to recreate Kurt Schwitters' 'Merzbau'". Wallpaper*. Wallpaper*. Retrieved 11 November 2016. 
  18. ^ Waga, Nel-Olivia. "Zaha Hadid's Design for "Kurt Schwitters: MERZ" at Galerie Gmurzynska in Zurich". Forbes. Forbes. Retrieved 11 November 2016. 
  19. ^ JUDAH, HETTIE. "Zaha Hadid's Last Project: A Tribute to a Dada Master". New York Times. New York Times. Retrieved 11 November 2016. 
  20. ^ Abrams, Amah-Rose. "Galerie Gmurzynska Donates $36,000 to Save Kurt Schwitters' Merz Barn". ArtnetNews. ArtnetNews. Retrieved 11 November 2016. 
  21. ^ a b c "Richard Meier On Collages, Picasso, and, Well, Sex". Artnet News. 30 October 2014. Retrieved 4 June 2015. 
  22. ^ "'Richard Meier: Collages' opens at the Stroganov Palace, St. Petersburg". Artdaily. Artdaily. Retrieved 11 November 2016. 
  23. ^ "Hotel Dolder Grand and Galerie Gmurzynska raided - In The Local News - ZURICH4YOU.CH - THE ENGLISH ONLINE PLATFORM FOR EXPATS LIVING IN ZURICH". Retrieved 2017-09-10. 
  24. ^ Feusi, Alois (2013-12-08). "Kunstgegenstände angeblich illegal eingeführt: Zollfahndung ermittelt gegen «Dolder Grand»". Neue Zürcher Zeitung (in German). ISSN 0376-6829. Retrieved 2017-09-10. 
  25. ^ Duran, Jose D. "Baz Luhrmann dazzles at Basel while local gallery snubs us". Miami New Times. Retrieved 30 September 2015. 
  26. ^ Woolridge, Jane. "In the VIP zone: Day One at Art Basel Miami Beach". Miami Herald. Miami Herald. Retrieved 11 November 2016. 
  27. ^ Azzarello, Nina. "christo & jeanne-claude show an extensive overview of works in progress in st. moritz". designboom. designboom. Retrieved 11 November 2016. 
  28. ^ Abrams, Amah-Rose. "Christo and Jeanne-Claude's Works in Progress Get Center Stage at Galerie Gmurzynska". ArtnetNews. ArtnetNews. Retrieved 11 November 2016. 
  29. ^ Nathan, Emily. "Robert Indiana Shines in His Retrospective at St Petersburg's State Russian Museum". ArtnetNews. ArtnetNews. Retrieved 11 November 2016. 
  30. ^ Forrest, Nicholas. "Galerie Gmurzynska Pays Tribute to 20th Century American Art". BouinArtInfo. BouinArtInfo. Retrieved 11 November 2016. 
  31. ^ Forrest, Nicholas. "Q and A: Mel Ramos on His Milestone Galerie Gmurzynska Show". BlouinArtInfo. BlouinArtInfo. Retrieved 11 November 2016. 
  32. ^ "Artists". galerie gmurzynska. galerie gmurzynska. Retrieved 11 November 2016. 

External links[edit]