Swiss-born Andreas Bechtler is an entrepreneur, artist, musician and art collector. After inheriting a portion of his parents’ mid-century modern art collection, he made plans for a museum that would not only honor the art but also the way in which it was collected. His desire to share the collection with his adopted Charlotte, North Carolina home was fueled by his family’s passion and commitment for collecting art and supporting artists.
Andreas Bechtler was born into a family of art collectors. His parents, grandparents, uncles and aunts all were purposeful art collectors. At 16 years old, Andreas followed suit by purchasing his first piece – a small painting by Sam Francis. Andreas continues to collect to this day.
With a singular vision and taste, Andreas’ parents, Hans and Bessie Bechtler of Zurich, Switzerland, developed genuine, long-standing, mutually rewarding friendships with many of the artists whose works they collected. The couple visited artists in their studios, invited them into their homes and provided a variety of support for both the well known and emerging. Through these personal relationships, Andreas was befriended and mentored by artists such as Ben Nicholson, Julius Bissier, Italo Valenti and Jean Tinguely. Exposure to an art-focused lifestyle made an impression on Andreas who founded the Little Italy Peninsula Arts Center in Mount Holly, North Carolina as a place where artists can work in a natural environment.
Through the works he has personally added, Andreas Bechtler has brought a great deal of joy and vitality to the collection. In the work of Jean Tinguely, a particular favorite of Andreas, there is a sense of serendipity, surprise and energy. The work of Niki de Saint Phalle brings a sensuous, welcoming quality of beauty. These artistic elements are expressions of Andreas' quiet dynamism. Like his parents, Andreas has illustrated a longstanding commitment to the freedom of independent perspective, experimentation and inquiry that often leads to artists' greatest achievements.
HANS and BESSIE BECHTLER
Hans and Bessie Bechtler of Zurich, Switzerland did not set out to create a survey of modern art nor did they intend for their collection to end up in a museum. Starting in the 1950s, the couple found themselves drawn to art and the artists who created it. They formed a collection that is not overwhelming or all encompassing, but personal, intimate and whimsical. It captures a time—a remarkable era for art—and a place, not the dominant art centers of Paris and New York, but Switzerland, where art thrived in the center of Europe.
Hans and Bessie visited artists in their studios to see where ideas originated. In addition to masterpieces in the making, the couple saw the mishaps and the throwaways, and spent long hours in conversation with the artists. As they became friends with artists, they integrated them into their family life, and started to buy works from them.
As their home began to fill with art, the Bechtlers chose to share their artworks with others by locating pieces in the offices, hallways and conference rooms of their businesses.
COLLECTING ACROSS MEDIA
Hans and Bessie Bechtler favored a diversity of modern artists. One factor that always stood out was the need to know something about the artist. They bought works in various media: sculptures, paintings, prints, artist books, drawings. They especially liked anything that showed the working method of the artist.
As the couple formed their collection, they sometimes concentrated on a body of work by one artist. This type of collecting provided a perspective on how the artist worked, how different media were used for different purposes and how the artist fully developed a concept. Collecting across media gave the couple a complete picture of the artist and the art.
The work in the Bechtler collection by Alberto Giacometti exemplifies this collecting method. Hans and Bessie acquired drawings, paintings, sculpture, prints, etchings, furniture and jewelry by Giacometti. Giacometti is unique in the sense that because he was equally a sculptor, a painter, and a draftsman, and treated each of these media in a similar manner with the same attentive application, he enables the viewer to evaluate the merits of the different approaches.