Swiss Post and art – a long tradition
Swiss Post delivers letters and parcels. But it does so much more besides, such as its commitment to art. The Swiss Post art collection comprises more than 400 works. Swiss Post also has a long-standing tradition of supporting and promoting Swiss artists. In future, Swiss Post intends to make its commitment to art even more accessible to art enthusiasts – and to a new audience of young, trend-conscious people.
Swiss Post’s art collection has a rich history. Its origins lie in the Federal Decree on the Promotion and Elevation of Swiss Art of 1887, which stipulated that state-owned companies had to contribute towards promoting art. Swiss Post continues to fulfil this mandate. The Swiss Post art collection now comprises more than 400 works.
Promoting art as a social commitment
For these historical reasons, Swiss Post owns numerous works of art and a nationwide art in architecture portfolio. The latter comprises around 130 artworks in and on Swiss Post buildings throughout Switzerland. By promoting art, Swiss Post is taking its social responsibility seriously. The company aims to maintain and preserve cultural heritage, but also develop it in a contemporary manner.
Two years ago, Swiss Post set up its own Art Department to tackle this issue with an even greater degree of professionalism. At the same time, Swiss Post redefined its art commitment and decided to focus on three spheres: its art collection, art in architecture and planned partnerships with peripheral art events (“Art in the periphery”). As before, promotion of artists with a connection to Switzerland lies at the heart of the commitment. An annual budget of just under 150,000 francs is available for acquisitions and for maintaining the collection. This is a modest budget in the context of the Swiss art scene as a whole, making the quality of the collection – which features leading artists (see box) – all the more pleasing.
Making art accessible to the public
Curator Diana Pavlicek is responsible for the yellow world’s art collection. In her role as the new Head of the Art Collection, she created a representative overview of the more than 400 artworks for the first time in 2019 – a huge challenge which she tackled with great gusto. Diana Pavlicek has big plans: “Our aim is to provide art lovers with greater access to Swiss Post’s art commitment in future. One way in which we will achieve this is by holding art events throughout Switzerland.” As well as a comprehensive art education programme and thematic exhibitions, she also plans to upgrade the website to enable various works of art from the collection to be enjoyed digitally: “My goal is to raise the profile of Swiss Post’s art commitment within and outside of the company.” But Diana Pavlicek’s approach isn’t about art for art’s sake. She wishes to enable the art-loving public to experience contemporary art with a connection to Switzerland.
“Red Bus” 2019 / Two-colour lithography on a gelatine silver baryte print, in a handmade ceramic frame / Unique piece / 32 x 24 cm / Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Peter Kilchmann, Zurich
“Körper und Blume” 2018 / Oil and ink on paper / 37.3 x 49.3 cm / Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Peter Kilchmann, Zurich. Photo: Thomas Strub, Chur
“Gletscherfeld – Ohne Seil, 1910” from the “Monuments” series 2020 Lithography on used glacier blanket / unique piece / 77.6 x 100 cm © Dougals Mandry, Courtesy of Bildhalle
“Prophet” 2011-2016 / Pigment print on handmade paper / 137 x 100 cm / © Ana Roldán, Courtesy annex14
“Courtly Love” 2018 / Serigraphy and engraving on PVC screen / 90 x 68 cm / © Manon Wertenbroek
"Knowledge Unit #4" 2020 / beeswax, textile remnants, concrete casting, iron, acrylic paint on wood / unique piece / 100 cm × 53 cm × 9.5 cm / © Pedro Wirz, Courtesy GALERIE PHILIPPZOLLINGER
Artworks in a cutting-edge magazine
Swiss Post recently provided a young and trend-conscious audience with an insight into its art collection. A special supplement in the latest issue of “Studio Magazine” features 24 works of art by young artists from the Swiss Post collection. “This kind of collaboration between a corporate art collection and a cutting-edge magazine breaks new ground in the Swiss art scene,” explains a delighted Diana Pavlicek. She is confident that this approach will inspire young people to take an interest in Swiss Post’s art – and to discover that Swiss Post does a great deal more than delivering letters and parcels.
Which artists are represented in the Swiss Post collection?
The list of artists featured in the Swiss Post art collection reads like a who’s who of the Swiss art scene: Fischli/Weiss, Julian Charrière, Pedro Wirz, Shirana Shahbazi, Claudia Comte, Mirko Baselgia, Andriu Deplazes, Ian Anüll, Beni Bischof and Fabian Marti, to name but a few.
Which work was acquired most recently?
Pedro Wirz. (Knowledge Unit): “Knowledge Unit #4” by Pedro Wirz was acquired at the end of 2020. The Zurich-based artist with Brazilian heritage creates unique sculptures and wall objects that relate to cultural history, science, crafts and folklore. Pedro Wirz has been represented in the collection since 2011 and will hold an individual exhibition at Kunsthalle Basel in the near future.
How many people work at Swiss Post’s Art Department?
Diana Pavlicek runs the Art Department alone. She works on an 80 percent contract and can call in support from other employees for larger projects if required.