Society for the History of Swiss Art
The Society for the History of Swiss Art aims to raise public awareness of Switzerland’s centuries-old architectural culture and to conserve it for the future. It has been performing this service for 140 years – and increasingly in digitized form.
Through its work, the Society for the History of Swiss Art, which was founded in 1880, makes an important contribution to the understanding of Switzerland’s diverse heritage. One of its major achievements is the “Kunstdenkmäler der Schweiz” (Switzerland’s monuments of art and history) collection, a fundamental reference work on Swiss architectural culture, art and history. The book series has expanded to 139 volumes in the 92 years since its launch. The Society for the History of Swiss Art is now making the entire series available free of charge in a digital database. The digitization process should be completed by 2027, just in time for the centenary of the series. Our special stamp aims to raise public awareness of the organization’s cultural mission, not least as a prime example of the synthesis of tradition and innovation. The Society for the History of Swiss Art has been using modern communication technologies to present its material for some time. It developed the “Swiss Art To Go” app, a digital architectural guide through Switzerland, and significant Swiss buildings can be viewed in 360 degrees on its website – a dynamism that is captured by the special stamp.
Interview with Diana Pavlicek, Head of the Swiss Post art collection
Swiss Post has an art collection. When was the collection started?
Swiss Post’s art collection has a rich history. The Swiss Confederation’s funding commitment began in 1887, when the foundations were laid through a federal decree on “the promotion and elevation of Swiss art” and the Ordinance on Federal Promotion of Art from 29 September 1924.
How is the collection put together?
The basis of Swiss Post’s commitment to art is promotion. We have always focused on supporting contemporary art related to Switzerland. Swiss Post therefore collects works
by contemporary artists.
How big is the collection today, and how can it be viewed?
The collection currently contains around 400 pieces of all kinds, and most of it is on display in the meeting rooms and corridors of Swiss Post’s administrative buildings. The collection also includes a broad, Switzerland-wide portfolio of “architectural art”.
What is “architectural art”?
“Architectural art” is work commissioned from artists which has a location-specific character and explores a relationship with the architecture or public space where it plays. After the Second World War, commissions for this kind of project aimed to support artists living in precarious circumstances and to give them a platform for their work. In conjunction with the Swiss Federal Art Commission, Swiss Post put out calls for tenders for architectural art competitions. Around 150 projects have come to life throughout Switzerland during the many years of this collaboration. They have now become fascinating testaments to their times which are worthy of conservation.
Are there similarities between Swiss Post’s commitment to art and that of the Society for the History of Swiss Art?
Yes, definitely! Swiss Post was well known for its distinctive buildings in prominent locations. Some of the now historical buildings received awards, and some are also heritage-protected. These buildings also often contain “architectural art”. Over the course of time, this genre of architectural decoration became an independent art form, which fulfils its intellectual and design potential and actively shapes the public space. Like the Society for the History of Swiss Art, Swiss Post also considers it extremely important to conserve and treasure these testaments to history and make them accessible to any members of the public who may be interested.
Swiss Post has an art department. What role does it play?
Swiss Post is conscious of its collection, including the “architectural art” portfolio, and its cultural and historic value. It takes its responsibility seriously and is protecting this heritage. It wishes to continue managing the collection in a contemporary manner and also make it available to the public. That’s why an art department was set up. The department takes care of expanding and maintaining this substantial collection of contemporary Swiss art. It aims to make its art accessible to the public and has various educational programmes in the pipeline.
More information about Swiss Post’s art collection can be found at: www.swisspost.ch/art-collection
Philately: from 30.4.2020 to 30.6.2021 or while stocks last
Branches: from 7.5.2020 to 30.6.2021 or while stocks last
Unlimited from 7.5.2020
Offset, 4-colour; Gutenberg AG, Schaan, Liechtenstein
Stamps: 40 × 32.5 mm
Sheet: 190 x 160 mm
(4 rows of 4 stamps)
White stamp paper with optical brightener, matt gummed, 110 gm²
Beat Kehrli, Meiringen