Background

The custodian of the art collection

Swiss Post is a committed art collector and has been supporting Swiss art for close to 70 years. Its impressive collection recently came under the care of art historian Diana Pavlicek, who intends to utilize and communicate its full potential.

Sandra Gurtner

Curator Diana Pavlicek in front of an artwork from the Swiss Post art collection.
Curator Diana Pavlicek and her favourite artwork. The pinewood relief is a 14-times larger than life-size representation of the honeycomb structure used by bees, applied by artist Mirko Baselgia to the structure of an eastern-style ornamentation. Copyright: Annette Boutellier

Le Corbusier, Yves Netzhammer or Fischli/Weiss: The list of artists in the Swiss Post art collection reads like a who’s who of the Swiss art scene. Curator Diana Pavlicek is using her deep knowledge of these artworks to create a representative overview of over 400 pieces for the first time as the new director of the art collection. It is a task that involves a great deal of research, as the collection adorns the rooms of Swiss Post administrative buildings and branches or is housed in public spaces throughout Switzerland as part of a “percent for art” project. After the dissolution of the PTT in 1997, more urgent matters took priority and Swiss Post paid less attention to its art collection.

Olive wood bones
The artist Claudia Comte loves patterns as much as she does the milling and polishing process. Both of these are clear in this sculpture of olive wood and oak. For years, her works have promoted active artistic discourse in the Post Finance Tower. Copyright: Annette Boutellier

With the newly created Art department, Diana Pavlicek ensures that all the pieces in the collection receive the care they require as she has big plans for them: in addition to a comprehensive art education programme and exhibitions, she is also planning a website that will make it possible to experience selected artworks digitally.

Art acquisition as social commitment 

As early as 1887, the Swiss government decided that Swiss art needed to be promoted. State-run enterprises were also required to follow this directive, thus creating the basis for Swiss Post’s long tradition of support for the arts. From the end of the Second World War, it has supported artists with a connection to Switzerland with an annual purchasing budget of around 100,000 Swiss francs. To this day, Swiss Post continues to take its social responsibility seriously.

Office with painting
The Swiss Post art collection is housed in the rooms of its administration buildings and branches, or in public spaces throughout Switzerland as part of a “percent for art” project. Copyright: Annette Boutellier

Diana Pavlicek is pleased with the resulting variety of the collection: “I’m impressed with the substantial collection, encompassing many significant Swiss artists. At the same time, such a comprehensive “percent for art” portfolio, full of cultural-historical icons, is unique within Switzerland. The important task now is to maintain it and continue our collecting activities according to current circumstances. My goal is to increase awareness of the art collection internally and externally”.

Concrete relief by Walter Kretz at the Postbus station in Bern.
Students from the Bern University of the Arts are currently working on behalf of Swiss Post to restore the concrete relief by Walter Kretz at the Postbus station in Bern. Future restoration projects will also benefit from their experience. Copyright: Annette Boutellier

written by

Sandra Gurtner

Digital Content Specialist