BMW Art Guide by Independent Collectors

Grazyna Kulczyk

Founder of Muzeum Susch

What was the first piece of artwork you purchased, and when was this?

I do not remember the very first artwork I purchased, however I do remember the first artwork I bought after the Iron Wall collapsed and my husband and I were engaged in building the economy in Poland. The artwork was a 1960s painting by Antoni Tàpies. It was very symbolic at the time. The economic system in Poland had just changed, and it was my first Sotheby’s auction acquisition. It was the beginning of a new era and I felt what being included in a more open world might look like.

Tell us about the history and concept of your collection.

Early on in my business activity, I adopted a 50:50 concept, investing equal parts into business and culture. The beginning was in car showrooms since my family was a general importer of VW group brands. I decided to make small art exhibitions in car showrooms to promote artists. As the scale of my businesses grew, so did my initiatives in culture, such as Stary Browar, a 140,000sqm commercial hub and cultural center in my native Poznań, Poland. I exhibited art in the public spaces of the Stary Browar as well as in dedicated exhibition spaces.

It has always been my dream to establish a home for my collection. My initial intention was to cooperate with the government in my hometown Poznań to build and later operate a museum in the complex of Stary Browar for a public-private collaboration, but unfortunately this was denied, I proposed a similar project later in Warsaw - again denied. Since I had already been living in the Engadin in Switzerland for some years, with plans for an annex of my activity in Poland. I decided to realize my mission in Susch instead.

The activity at Muzeum Susch, which goes beyond my collection, has a commitment to establishing a matrilineage in art history. The museum supports research, conferences, choreography performances, residencies and invites guest curators to take my collection as a point of inspiration to explore and propose what this matrilineage could look like.

Mirosław Bałka NARCISSUSSUSCH (2018) © Studio Stefano Graziani for Muzeum Susch / Art Stations Foundation CH
Mirosław Bałka NARCISSUSSUSCH (2018) © Studio Stefano Graziani for Muzeum Susch / Art Stations Foundation CH
Monika Sosnowska Stairs (2016 – 2017) © Muzeum Susch / Art Stations Foundation CH
Monika Sosnowska Stairs (2016 – 2017) © Muzeum Susch / Art Stations Foundation CH

Why did you decide to make your collection publicly accessible and what are the benefits?

To clarify, I do not show my collection in Muzeum Susch. Rather, I support research and realize an exhibition programming dedicated to showcasing a matrilineage of omitted, overlooked, and misread artists and it feels intuitive to share that with the public. These principles are in general similar to my collecting strategy. Muzeum Susch is a living organisation with an active program of temporary exhibitions, research and performances. Making it accessible to the public invites opportunities for discussion and knowledge sharing in unexpected forms. Regarding my collection I am always very open to loan artworks to the various exhibitions around the world.

What is your biggest hope for the future of art and collecting?

I hope more and more private collections will turn towards public missions and away from the vanity path. Since I deeply believe private initiatives can implement very mature, important, and sophisticated programs and they are not so vulnerable to global crises, they are able to react dynamically to the changing environment without foregoing their missions.

What advice do you have for starting a collection?

Do not be afraid of making mistakes - they make collections genuine. However, at the same time, it is important to think about how the collection will change in the future to contribute in the global art history.

Filmstills from Heidi Buchers Video Bodyshells, Venice Beach, California, 1972 The Estate of Heidi Bucher ©Muzeum Susch
Filmstills from Heidi Buchers Video Bodyshells, Venice Beach, California, 1972 The Estate of Heidi Bucher ©Muzeum Susch
Heidi Bucher skinning Herrenzimmer, 1978 The Estate of Heidi Bucher Photo: Hans Peter Siffert ©Muzeum Susch
Heidi Bucher skinning Herrenzimmer, 1978 The Estate of Heidi Bucher Photo: Hans Peter Siffert ©Muzeum Susch

Which publicly accessible private collection would you recommend visiting (internationally)?

The most important collectors do not only show their collections, but they also realize wider exhibition programs. Since my mission is clear, I would recommend the private collections of women collectors such as Ingvild Götz, Miuccia Prada, Patrizia Rebaudengo, Maya Hoffman, Cristina Bechtler.

In addition to Muzeum Susch, what exhibition or collection is on your “must-see” list in Switzerland?

Switzerland is lucky to have great exhibitions and collections accessible to the public. If possible, I would recommend Kunstmuseum Basel, Beyeler Foundation, Bechtler Stiftung, Ursula Hauser Collection.

Zofia Kulik, Ethnic Wars. Large Vanitas Still Life (1995/2017) (c) Studio Stefano Graziani, courtesy Muzeum Susch, Art Stations Foundation CH.
Zofia Kulik, Ethnic Wars. Large Vanitas Still Life (1995/2017) (c) Studio Stefano Graziani, courtesy Muzeum Susch, Art Stations Foundation CH.
Install of Heidi Bucher. Metamorphosen II at Muzeum Susch © Courtesy Muzeum Susch / Art Stations Foundation CH. Photo by Federico Sette
Install of Heidi Bucher. Metamorphosen II at Muzeum Susch © Courtesy Muzeum Susch / Art Stations Foundation CH. Photo by Federico Sette
Install of Heidi Bucher. Metamorphosen II at Muzeum Susch © Courtesy Muzeum Susch / Art Stations Foundation CH. Photo by Federico Sette
Install of Heidi Bucher. Metamorphosen II at Muzeum Susch © Courtesy Muzeum Susch / Art Stations Foundation CH. Photo by Federico Sette

Insiders (64)

THE FAIREST

Interview with Georgie Pope and Eleonora Sutter, Co-founders

Kamiar Maleki

Director at VOLTA

Gallery Weekend Berlin 2022

Tokini Peterside

Founder and Director, ART X Lagos

Poka-Yio

Founding Director of the Athens Biennale

Boris Ondreička

Artistic Director of viennacontemporary

Maribel Lopez

Director of ARCO

David Gryn

Founder and Director of Daata

Fondation Beyeler Audiovisual Broadcast

Fondation Beyeler and Nordstern Basel present Dixon x Transmoderna

Gary Yeh

Founder of ArtDrunk and Young Collector

WATCH: The Best of the BMW Art Guide

Where will you travel next to explore art?

Maike Cruse

2020 Gallery Weekend Berlin

Touria El Glaoui

Founding Director of 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair

Johann König

Messe in St. Agnes

PArt - Producers Art Platform

A crisis initiative to help artists directly affected by the pandemic

Barbara Moore

CEO of Biennale of Sydney

Unique Collector’s Item

by Independent Collectors

Alix Dana

Fair Director at Independent

When Collectors are Able to Commission

by Nicole Büsing and Heiko Klaas

Juliet Kothe and Julia Rust

Initiators of Collection Night, Berlin

Marie-Anne McQuay

Curator of Wales in Venice, 58th Venice Biennale 2019

Dorothy and Herb Vogel

Two extraordinary art collectors

Heather Hubbs

Director at NADA

Every Art Collection Needs Space

by Nicole Büsing and Heiko Klaas

Collecting Art with François Pinault

Rudolf Stingel at Palazzo Grassi

A Common Ground

by Silvia Anna Barrilà

Caroline Vos

Director at Amsterdam Art Weekend

Hidden Collections

by Nicole Büsing and Heiko Klaas

Nicole Berry

Executive Director of The Armory Show

Daniel Hug

Fair Director at Art Cologne

The Role of the Art Fair

by Silvia Anna Barrilà

Peter Bläuer

Director at LISTE

A Brush Against Nature

by Nicole Büsing and Heiko Klaas

Ilaria Bonacossa

Director of Artissima

Excessiveness, the Latent Danger of Collecting Art

by Independent Collectors

Jo Stella-Sawicka

Artistic Director at Frieze

Florence Bourgeois

Director at Paris Photo

Where Artists Can Work More Playfully

by Christiane Meixner

Specifically Commissioned

by Silvia Anna Barrilà

Manuela Mozo

Executive Director of UNTITLED, ART Miami and San Francisco

Important Museums and Private Collections

by Christiane Meixner

Susanna Corchia

Director of the Barcelona Gallery Weekend

Emilia van Lynden

Artistic Director at Unseen, Amsterdam

Carlos Urroz

Director at ARCOmadrid

Shoe Smudges Streaked Across the White Walls

by Christiane Meixner

Amanda Coulson

Director at VOLTA Basel

Douwe Cramer

Director at Singapore Contemporary

Art and Architecture – Attractive Allies

by Nicole Büsing and Heiko Klaas

Jo Baring

Curator of Sculpture Series, Masterpiece London

Bidders and Buyers

by Christiane Meixner

Anne Vierstraete

Managing Director at Art Brussels

Nanna Hjortenberg

Director at CHART

The Crucial Role of the New

by Independent Collectors

Makers and Believers

On Art History’s Most Famous Patrons

The Past is Back

And collectors are buying it up

Are Artists the Better Curators?

On the diminishing boundary between professions in the art world

The Digital Museum

On the importance of the museum’s web presence

The Man in the Middle

On the curator’s private and public engagements

A Private Matter?

On the importance of physical space for the value of art

Off the Wall

How museums contribute to the worth of artworks

Where to Go Next?

The fragmentation of Manhattan’s gallery scene

To Buy or Not to Buy

Collectors on their experiences of letting an artwork slip away

How to Pass On a Passion

On long-term challenges for new private museums