Fond. Ghisla Art Collection
Works by Picasso, Mirò, Christo & Jeanne-Claude, Magritte, Tàpies, Botero, Dorazio, Poliakoff, Dubuffet, Appel, Basquiat, Vasarely, Bonalumi and many other protagonists of the contemporary art scene, plus those of a large group of young, emerging artists, are displayed at the Fondazione Ghisla Art Collection in Locarno. Designed by architect Franco Moro, the museum itself is a feat of architecture: a big cube covered by red wire mesh, surrounded by a small moat.
Outside the museum visitors are welcomed by a rectangular block of steel, featuring overlapping modules that reflect the outside world, created by Basle-born artist Lori Hersberger. A small bridge leads to the exhibit areas where an intriguing selection of works belonging to the Ghisla Collection welcome visitors.
On the ground floor and of the first floor some fifty works representing the most interesting trends of the late 20th century, are displayed: Arte Povera, Zero art, Informal art, Conceptual art, Abstract art, the New Dada, Spatialism, Graffiti art and Pop art. One of the most surprising elements is not only the presence of several of the best known masters of the 20th century but also the quality and the museum-like dimensions of the works.
The second floor is dedicated to temporary exhibits. During 2023 two exhibitions are scheduled: the first one, from March to August, presents the works of Italian artist Alessandro Twombly; the second one, from September to early January 2024, those of Ireneo Nicora, an eclectic contemporary artist born in Ticino.
The Ghisla collection is extremely varied both in terms of styles and trends and is distinguished by the multicultural backgrounds of the artists. It represents an interesting example of enlightened patronage. The museum has a familiar feel, almost giving the impression of entering a private home. And, as a matter of fact, collector Pierino Ghisla explains: “it is actually my wife and myself who create the setting, based on our own taste and intuition, as if we were displaying the works in our own home and not in a public place." The entire collection boasts 280 works of which 80 are displayed. Each year, on a rotational basis, the exhibition is partly renewed, with the addition of new acquisitions. In fact, the Ghislas are continuously in search of new objects to enrich their collection. “When making our choices – the collector explains – we allow ourselves to be transported above all by our emotions: we follow neither fads, nor trends and we are particularly interested in young artists who though not yet famous nevertheless display originality and personality.”
An audio-guide is included in the entry fee (chf. 18 adults, chf. 15 (retired seniors), chf. 11 students) and is available to visitors in four different languages (Italian, German, French and English)
Following his retirement, Pierino Ghisla moved back to Ticino, his birthplace of origin, where, with his wife Martine, he fulfilled his dream of sharing the works of their collection with other art lovers visiting their museum.
Aged just 14, Pierino Ghisla left Marolta in the Blenio Valley to visit his uncle who owned a fruit and vegetables import company in Brussels, Belgium. He ended up staying there, only returning to Ticino during the holidays. He continued to pursue and develop his uncle’s business and this activity provided him with the necessary funds to create his important art collection which, he had begun to build in partnership with his wife thirty years earlier, after being totally captivated by a painting by French artist Georges Mathieu. “However, we had to wait a few years before purchasing it – says Ghisla – because we did not have the necessary funds. In the meantime we befriended the gallery owner who was selling it. After acquiring that first painting for our collection – he continues – we fell in love with a work by Christo and Jeanne-Claude, which my friend the gallery owner allowed us to buy in exchange for several 19th century works that we had at home. This marked the beginning of this fantastic adventure.”