Sunday, May 16, 2010

Arms for Art

Yesterday in Zürich I went to the penultimate day of the Bührle Collection exhibition at the Kunsthaus. Outstanding 19th century and early 20th century (mostly) French painting, with some earlier Dutch and Italian delights. I had no clue about the collection's origin until I read the historical panels at the exhibition. Emil Georg Bührle was the owner of Oerlikon, famous for its antiaircraft guns that were supplied to all contenders before and during World War II, and later to NATO. The profits from that business paid for the collection's purchase. I don't know what more to say right now, but it's a conflicted feeling to enjoy peaceful Impressionist landscapes brought under one roof by the arms trade. Maybe I should have paid with an even closer look at the darker paintings in the show, like most of the van Gogh's.

(C) Fear Note: I was very tempted to include the image of one of the collection's works, maybe Pissarro's SThe Road under Snow at Louveciennes, but our European friends are touchy about copyright, especially in a not necessarily totally positive critical context.

1 comment:

Tom Dietterich said...

Just back from my most recent trip, which included a day in the Thyssen-Bournemisza. What a wonderful museum -- a great guided tour through western art, including a very strong American collection. The story of the fortune that created this collection is long, but a significant portion originates in armament manufacture.