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Kunstmuseum Winterthur:

Collection I – Beginnings

Arthur and Hedy Hahnloser began their pioneering collection of modern art with Swiss artists. They had already seen a few works from the latest developments in art at the Turnus exhibition in Zurich and in Oscar Miller's private collection in Solothurn. Although they were hesitant when they first approached this initially provocative style of painting, their enthusiasm quickly increased and soon turned into a lifelong passion.


Giovanni Giacometti, Self-portrait, 1906

Kunststiftung Pauline

Through their artist friend, the very well-connected Carl Montag from Winterthur, they came into contact with Giovanni Giacometti, whom they soon visited in his home village of Stampa in Graubünden. When they returned, they had made a new friend and also brought their first modern painting with them, his self-portrait from 1907, which probably still had the scent of fresh paint.

Hodler - Selbstportrait

Ferdinand Hodler, Self-portrait, 1916

Gift from the Hahnloser family to the Kunstmuseum Winterthur 1937

Foto: Hans Humm, Zürich

It was not far from Giacometti to Ferdinand Hodler, at least in terms of content – but geographically, because Hodler lived in Geneva. Consequently, the collector couple also travelled there and visited the artist in his studio – and here, too, they immediately bought a painting, a small cherry tree. Hedy Hahnloser later recalled: "The painter, still highly controversial, was visibly delighted."

Arthur and Hedy Hahnloser's passion for modernism began with these works by Giacometti and Hodler, whom they had to defend and constantly explain themselves, especially in the early days. Hodler in particular was a well-known and controversial painter throughout the country at the time. His painting for the newly built National Museum in Zurich led to one of the biggest art scandals ever in Switzerland, so that ultimately the Federal Council itself had to intervene and decide. It was courageous and visionary to support such a painter. The Hahnlosers remained true to their view of art throughout their lives and soon waged further battles in the name of modernism.