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Merzbacher collection makes European debut

André Derain: Boats in the Port of Collioure, 1905 oil on canvas.

Masterpieces from the private collection of Switzerland's Werner and Gabrielle Merzbacher have gone on public display in Europe for the first time.

The exhibition, “Masters of Colour: Derain to Kandinsky, 80 Masterpieces from the Merzbacher Collection”, opened at London’s Royal Academy of Art at the end of July.

It features works by many modern masters, including paintings by Klee, Kandinsky, Matisse and Picasso, and sculptures by Modigliani and Calder.

The Merzbachers have been collecting art for more than 30 years and have assembled one of Europe’s greatest and most critically acclaimed private collections. Museums and galleries worldwide have regularly drawn on parts of the collection, but it has only previously been shown in its entirety in Israel and Japan.

The couple married in 1949 and started their collection after a series of trips to New York brought them into contact with the world of American collectors and gallery owners. It is a sharply focused collection, revealing the way in which colour has been used by European artists.

“This fascination for colour inspired us to start our collection,” says Walter Merzbacher. “And a real joy for colour is one of the characteristics of the works we’ve assembled over the years.”

Joy of Colour

During the 1999 “Joy of Colour” exhibition in Israel, the Merzbachers displayed their masterpieces to a huge number of people on the Internet.

“It provided us with the chance to have the paintings and sculptures viewed by an enormous audience and without the need for a security system,” they said.

The London exhibition runs until November and will include works drawn from Impressionism, Fauvism, German Expressionism and Russian avant-garde.


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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR