Art, Finance, and Elite Networks. The Presidents of the Zurich Art Society, 1890-2021

For the occasion of the election of the new president of the Zurich art society (Zürcher Kunstgesellschaft, hereafter ZKG), which will be decided by the end of May, Sinergia team members Stéphanie Ginalski, Matthieu Leimgruber, Juliette Montandon, and Emilie Widmer have written a research note which sheds a light on the profiles of the presidents of the ZKG since its creation. For the first time in its history, the insider candidate of the ZKG Committee, Anne Keller Dubach – who could thus become the first woman to lead the society and who has developed her career in close contact with two former ZKG Presidents (Thomas Bechtler and Walther Kielholz) – has been challenged by an outsider candidate, lawyer Florian Schmidt-Gabain. This election coincides with important developments for the Kunsthaus Zürich, namely the opening of its new «Chipperfield» extension, which will host among others the famous and controversial Bührle art collection, as well as the nomination of a new director for the Kunsthaus.
The research note provides a timeline as well as individual biographical profiles of the 10 ZKG presidents and of the two candidates to the presidency. In doing so, it documents the rise and the reign of the « financial praetorians », i.e. the dominance of the financial elite in the executive committee and at the head of the ZKG since the interwar period, as well as their intricate links through family and business relationships.

Research Note

Timeline of ZKG Presidents, 1890-2021