St Petersburg pays homage to Swiss artist

Detail from a 2001 self-portrait. Victor Ruzo

A visit to Switzerland by the directors of the Hermitage and the State Russian Museum has resulted in a retrospective in Russia marking the 90th birthday of Swiss artist Victor Ruzo.

This content was published on October 10, 2003 - 17:28

The two men were so impressed by the works exhibited in the painter’s own museum near Montreux that they decided to honour his life and career.

The resulting exhibition entitled “Victor Ruzo: Life and Work” is on show at the Marble Palace in St Petersburg.

Some 150 paintings representing all periods of Ruzo’s career will be on view in ten rooms of the palace until November 20. Due to a family tragedy, many of these works were only completed in the past six years.

On May 23, 1996, his family home overlooking Lake Geneva was destroyed by fire. Ruzo has estimated that about 5,000 pictures were lost in the flames. But much worse, his youngest daughter, who was handicapped, died in the inferno.

By 1999 a new residence had been built to house a museum for 300 pictures which survived, along with new works completed by the artist during a prolific period in the run-up to his 90th birthday. It was this museum which so impressed the Russian visitors.

International recognition

Ruzo was born on December 22, 1913 in St Gallen in eastern Switzerland. Having served an apprenticeship designing fashion catalogues, he was gaining international recognition by the early 1930s, when he began creating 200 posters for commercial enterprises under his original name, Victor Rutz.

During the 1950s and 60s he worked for 15 years on his celebrated “turning pictures” – they revolve on a disc – and apparently it was these which made the most impact on the two Russian visitors to his museum.

Ruzo represented Swiss art and designed Switzerland’s pavilion at the New York world fair in 1964.

Many art experts believe that his reputation will continue to grow, and some even say his work will one day rank alongside that of Picasso and Dali.

The St Petersburg exhibition is a joint project of the town of Montreux and the State Russian Museum. It is taking place in the city’s 300th anniversary year as part of a major Swiss project to mark Switzerland’s historical links with St Petersburg.

swissinfo with agencies


Victor Ruzo (original name Rutz) was born on December 22, 1913 in St Gallen.
He was already becoming known internationally by the early 1930s, when he began creating 200 posters for commercial enterprises.
Later he worked for 15 years on his celebrated “turning pictures” – they revolve on a disc.
Some 5,000 of his paintings were lost in a fire at his home near Montreux in 1997, in which his youngest daughter was killed.
Ruzo had the house rebuilt with a museum for his many surviving works.

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