Latinamerican Art

Those deceased

It was always a pleasure to meet the grand old Latin American artists. Some of those that I was very interested in had already died. You might think everything was easier if the artist was no longer alive? Well, that’s far from true. Because then you have to deal with the executors, who — out of greed or ignorance — are fully capable of blocking or botching entire oeuvres! And this applies not only to Latin America…

One of the best ones sold out

Gertrud Louise Goldschmidt (1912-1994), better known as „Gego“, was born in Hamburg. Being Jewish, she managed to emigrate from Germany to Venezuela in 1939. When I started my job, I already paid a visit to her artistic executrices in Caracas, who were very friendly. At the time, however, the Gego Estate was undergoing restructuring and reorientation; nothing was being sold. I was only able to buy a few of her smaller, although good works on the art market, before the US-initiated Gego boom erupted and the prices for her works soared high. The very best works by this truly great artist had then already been the property of the Patricia Cisneros Collection, anyway. Frequently and ungrudgingly have I enjoyed their Gegos!

Late deliveries

Zürich-born Mira Schendel (1919-1988) had ended up in Brazil in 1949 as a so-called „displaced person“ registered as Mirra Hergesheimer. She later married the German emigrant Kurt Schendel, who ran a bookshop in São Paulo. I succeeded at buying a whole range of her masterpieces in the art trade. Unforgettable remains my visit at Raquel Arnaud’s Gabinete de Arte in São Paulo in the early millennium. Marly Matsumoto assisted me at the time. I was looking to buy monotypes by Schendel. Alas, no one at the gallery was interested in me or my cause. It took me about an hour before I was shown a few prints, which I bought. Barely a year had passed when I asked my coworker   in Zürich if the Schendel monotypes had arrived safe and sound. Her answer was that the gallery hadn’t even sent them yet…

Unperformed purchases

Lygia Pape (1927-2004) was an artist whom I was able to visit a few times at her home in Rio de Janeiro. And what an artist she was! I had compiled a lengthy shopping list of all her wonderful works that I was interested it, but she died before I could hand it over to her. Many years were to pass before her daughter Paula Pape made her mother’s oeuvre accessible—and by then, the prices had risen astronomically. The Daros Latinamerica Collection thus remained entirely and unfortunately devoid of Lygia Pape. As so often, it proved difficult for me as a non-Brazilian to be in the right place at the right time to buy Brazilian artworks. Without a permanent presence in the country—which I was not to have before a later point—many Brazilian deals simply passed me by. Given a choice, compatriots were preferentially attended to, and only if to avoid tedious customs procedures.

Belkis Ayón, Mokongo, 1991, Colograph on paper, 198,3 x 138,8 cm, Photography: Peter Schälchli, Zürich, Courtesy: Daros Latinamerica Collection, Zürich

Happy endings

Two female Cuban artists remain to be mentioned: Ana Mendieta (1948-1985), whose estate is managed by the New York Galerie Lelong—and whose oeuvre is of manageable size due to her rather short life. And then Belkis Ayón (1967-1999)—I purchased a number of her most beautiful, large-size graphic prints, which I am still very proud of today! Together with her sister Katya, we were able to first “heal” her fungus-infected works in an elaborate procedure, and then to frame them. Works that in their beauty and solemn silence seem to have fallen out of time…

  1. I was the coordinator of you, in the daros house of Brazil. I still follow his work from afar. Every day I think about what the museum would look like today in 2018. It is a dream of all of us who participate in this beautiful project, one day to give you latinamerica to open your doors again. And may we review all the friends who once worked on this project. Keep up the good work. Congratulations

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