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Major works by artists such as Maurizio Cattelan, Christoph Büchel, Cady Noland, Urs Fischer, Douglas Gordon, Olaf Nicolai, Rirkrit Tiravanija, Christine Borland, Gustav Metzger and Christopher Wool are included in the collection at the migros museum für gegenwartskunst in Zurich. The works were brought together through funding from the so-called Culture Percentage* of the Swiss retail giant Migros.

With Produced by Migros, Kunsthalle Fridericianum is presenting a first-rate selection of important works from the collection and at the same time placing its own exhibitions of recent years in a broader context. Room-sized installations, some of which come directly from exhibitions curated by the first two directors of the Migros collection, Rein Wolfs and Heike Munder, are supplemented by selected sculptures, films, paintings and photographs. At the centre of the show are issues of sociopolitical relevance and aspects such as performativity and spatiality. There are references to Kassel in the show, especially with Maurizio Cattelan’s sculptural reminiscence of Joseph Beuys: it seems as though the artist has decided to return to the Fridericianum for a while. For the Kassel exhibition, which will be jointly curated by Rein Wolfs and Heike Munder, the curators made a selection from purchases of the last 20 years. The collection has been built up since the end of the 1970s based on the highest international criteria. In 1977, the Halle für internationale neue Kunst (InK) was founded, Zurich’s first modern art gallery, albeit a provisional one. Its director Urs Raussmüller launched American Minimal and Concept Art in Switzerland and began collecting this art on behalf of the Federation of Migros Cooperatives. After the premises of InK had to switch to other uses in 1981, it was not until 1996 that Arina Kowner, together with Rein Wolfs, launched the migros museum für gegenwartskunst in the former Löwenbräu production site. Since the migros museum für gegenwartskunst was founded, collecting has been directly linked to the museum’s exhibition activities. Many exhibitions have been closely related to artistic production and have been quite expansive. The collection has developed in line with this aim and today includes a number of complex works that are not always easy to handle in terms of conservation and logistics. In addition, they are highly context-related: many are gestural works conveying an attitude of commitment and reflecting a contemporary human condition.

The exhibition at Kunsthalle Fridericianum is devoted to issues around the relationship between institution, art and reality. Among the central works in the show are large spatial pieces such as a usable seating landscape by Olaf Nicolai based on a painting by Max Bill, an installation produced for the migros museum für gegenwartskunst by Angela Bulloch, a space-dominating sculpture by Urs Fischer and an installation by Banks Violette. These exhibits are flanked and rounded off by important works of some of their artistic forebears, including Gustav Metzger, Cady Noland and Christopher Wool. Paintings by Marlene Dumas and Olivier Mosset, photographs by Phil Collins and Jens Haaning, a film by Marijke van Warmerdam and sculptures by Valentin Carron complete the thematic background. Besides a key work from Christine Borland’s oeuvre, an almost complete replica of the exhibition by Douglas Gordon at the migros museum für gegenwartskunst in 1996 will also be on view. The exhibition will additionally include performative works by Christoph Büchel, San Keller and Daniel Knorr that deal primarily with social issues, as well as a sculpture by Maurizio Cattelan that revolutionized the museum and its conception in the year 2000.

Due to the special genesis and distinctive status of Migros as one of Switzerland’s largest private promoters of culture, the collection at the migros museum für gegenwartskunst can also be seen as a programmatic statement, or even as a “third way” in the discussion about company collections, private museums and the significance of public art collections. In 2008, the migros museum für gegenwartskunst published a catalogue providing detailed documentation of the collection up until then. In addition to numerous pictures and texts accompanying the individual works, longer essays by Tom Holert, Jan Verwoert, Tirdad Zolghadr, Astrid Wege, Philip Ursprung, and Dan Fox focus on the issue of collecting contemporary art.


* The Migros Culture Percentage (Migros Kulturprozent) is a voluntary commitment of Migros, Switzerland’s largest retailer, in the areas of culture, society, education, leisure and business. The Migros Culture Percentage has also been long fostered the migros museum für gegenwartskunst; its professional collecting activities date back to the 1970s and the museum opened in Zurich in 1996.