The Brasilea Foundation
Based on the collection of Swiss art lover Walter Wüthrich.
Based on the collection of Swiss art lover Walter Wüthrich which originated out of a longstanding friendship with artist Franz Josef Widmar, the pillars of the foundation are built on Wüthrich’s very own personal history and deep connection with Brazil.
Walter Wüthrich was born on 10 November 1918. He grew up in a house in the Neubad district of Basel, where the street names recall exotic travel destinations in the South. After completing his basic military training, he took ship at the Rhine river port. With his sights set on South America and his savings in his pocket, he made his way to Rotterdam, where he caught the last ship allowed to put off for foreign parts, shortly before the war broke out.
Almost by chance, Wüthrich ended up in Rio de Janeiro, where he set up as an innovative street trader. Quickly he realised that Brazil was a country in which it was possible to get on through hard work and dogged determination. He soon made a living selling looms on behalf of Swiss mechanical engineering firms.
In the 1960s he met the Austrian/Brazilian artist Franz Widmar in Rio. The two became close friends and Wüthrich, impressed by Widmar’s passion for work and continual efforts to explore new styles using a luminous palette of colours, bought his first paintings.
Over the years Wüthrich’s visits home to Basel became longer and more frequent. In 1995, at the age of 77, he promised Widmar on his deathbed, that he would ensure that the artist’s life’s work would be put on permanent display in a gallery. After Widmar’s death, Wüthrich bought all the remaining works, to add to his already considerable collection and used his retirement to realise his plans for a “Franz Widmar Museum“ in Switzerland. Four years later Wüthrich died in 2002, aged 84. Sadly, he was never to know that his ideas would finally become a reality in a house on the West Dock of the Rhine port of Basel; the very place where 65 years ago he took ship for South America.
Today, The Brasilea Foundation is one of Switzerland’s most vibrant cultural centres to promote and disseminate Brazilian culture. Originating from, though not exclusive to Wüthrich’s collection of Widmars works, the foundation set up a program dedicated to preserve the history of the foundation as well as to work on its further development by acquiring more contemporary works with a focus on Latin America.
Up until this point the collection consists of works by 43 Brazil-based and international artists looking at latin American culture from a global perspective. The collection focuses on contemporary works made within the last twenty five years including a variety of different media such as painting, drawing, photography, sculpture as well as media art.
On IC, The Brasilea Foundation shares a selection of its contemporary additions.