Love at first sight for outstanding pieces of international art
Founded by Anna and Gabriele Braglia in 2014, the Braglia Foundation in Switzerland’s Lugano is home to an astonishing art collection and is also a marvellous testimony of this incredible collector couple’s sincere love for and true dedication to art.
Anna and Gabriele Braglia have always shared a great passion and love for art and the foundation brings their instinctive choices when it comes to collecting pieces of art, both from national and international artists, to life.
Put simply, it was often love at first sight and the decision-making of which new piece to acquire could have almost been seen as being fairly spontaneous, from the outside. But in fact, the Braglias showed great expertise and knowledge for their shared passion. What started with a Christmas gift in 1957 – a tempera painting by Mario Sironi from Gabriele to his young wife Anna – turned into almost six decades of exploring art of the twentieth century from Picasso to Balla and Modigliani and thus building an outstanding collection.
In 2014, the Braglias decided to share their passion and hence promote art itself to a wider audience through a large exhibition space. This space is fully equipped with state-of-the-art technologies for the preservation and display of this important collection, that now includes well over 200 pieces. That is how the Braglia Foundation was finally born. The Braglia sons, Riccardo and Enrico, were also on board with this heartfelt family mission, and still support the Foundation to this day. It should come as no surprise that after just a few years, the Braglia Foundation has firmly established itself in today’s Swiss art scene.
Wassily Kandinsky, Murnau – Zwei Häuser, 1908, Oil on board, 32.5 x 44.5 cm, Courtesy Fondazione Gabriele e Anna Braglia, Lugano. Photo: © Christoph Münstermann
It contains the biggest collection of Italian-Slovenian artist, Anton Zoran Music, whom Anna and Gabriele Braglia were personally acquainted with. Over 40 art works by Zoran Music are part of the collection, including oil paintings, drawings and 20 watercolours.
The German expressionism collection is also of particular importance. During the mid-1980s, the Braglias visited the Art Basel and almost coincidentally noticed works by Paul Klee. Love at first sight, this marked the beginning of their ongoing passion for German expressionism. As a result, they continuously visited many exhibitions focusing on works of this art movement and bought a large number of important pieces.
The couple’s dedication to German expressionism is reflected in this special part of their collection, which provides an overview of the artworks by prestigious artists of the ‘Munich and Murnau group’, better known as the ‘Der Blaue Reiter’ group. Vibrant expressions of colours, lights and feelings are the trademark of this period. Overall, the collection of the Braglia Foundation includes artworks by major influential artists including Klee, Kandinsky, von Jawlensky, Macke, Marc, Münter, Nolde and von Werefkin to name but a few.
At the end of March the Foundation reopens its doors again, after the winter break, with the showcase POT-POURRI from Picasso to Valdés. Paintings, drawings and sculptures from Italian and International artists of the 20th century are presented in a thematically organised way. From Balla, Boccioni, Morandi, Fontana, and Sironi to Doig, Picasso, Magritte, Miró, Valdés, and Warhol – this is certainly worth a visit.
Anna and Gabriele Braglia in 2015, Courtesy Fondazione Gabriele e Anna Braglia, Lugano. – Photo: Lorenzo Palmieri
The Braglia Foundation also hosts additional exciting exhibitions as artistic director Gaia Regazzoni Jaeggli points out. This autumn the exhibition From Kandinsky to Nolde will be open to the public until December. “This new exhibition will present almost 70 works of art of outstanding quality from the period of German expressionism. It will incorporate works of art collected partly by Anna and Gabriele Braglia as well as by Renate and Friedrich Johenning, a couple from Germany whose private collection will be seen for the first time by the general public,” explains Regazzoni Jaeggli.
She continues: “This dialogue between the Braglia Collection and the Foundation Renate und Friedrich Johenning in Düsseldorf represents an important cultural encounter and exchange between the north (Germany) and the South (Italian Switzerland) through a common shared passion: the love for German expressionist art of the early 20th century.” The idea of bringing together these two similar collections for the first time is to be attributed to a long-time adviser and friend of both collectors, Michael Beck of Beck & Eggeling, who is an integral part of the realisation of this ambitious project.
From Kandinsky to Nolde will certainly be a true highlight for any lovers of German expressionism and those who would like to discover it. Thanks to the temporary merge of the two collections, visitors will gain a comprehensive and somewhat unique insight into this fascinating and vibrant art period.
The Braglia Foundation not only showcases remarkable and important art works but also adds a certain personal flavour and atmosphere. The spirit of the founders Gabriele Braglia and his late wife Anna fills this special place and the collection is a celebration of both the art and their inspirational passion for it.
TEXT: MARILENE STRACKE