Four Artists in Ascona: Benazzi, Bissier, Nicholson and Valenti
A beloved locale in the Ticino region of Switzerland ultimately became a revered getaway because of the Bechtler family’s close ties to a group of artists who lived and created artwork in the small, scenic community.
The Zurich-based Bechtlers owned a vacation home in Ascona, a Swiss resort town on the Italian border with a century-old tradition of nurturing avant-garde artists. The home was located near a group of visual artists and over time, the lives of patrons and artists became intertwined.
On view in the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art second-floor gallery through July 5, 2011, Four Artists in Ascona: Benazzi, Bissier, Nicholson and Valenti, is a focused exhibition of 25 works that embody the connection the Bechtler family had with some of the artists whose work they collected.
Four Artists in Ascona: Benazzi, Bissier, Nicholson and Valenti serves as an introduction of these artists, each of whom knew the Bechtler family in their own fashion because of their shared connection with Ascona. In particular, Julius Bissier, Italo Valenti and Ben Nicholson were close friends of the Bechtlers and mentored museum patron Andreas Bechtler, who was at the time a young, inspiring artist.
The artwork presented in the exhibition ranges from the symbolic vocabulary of Julius Bissier and the etched lines of Ben Nicholson to the abstract collages of Italo Valenti and curvilinear sculptures of Raffael Benazzi. Benazzi is the only living artist represented in the exhibition. His alabaster sculpture, N. 1629, is the most recent addition to the Bechtler collection. The piece was a gift to the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art by Dany Bucher, the sister of Andreas Bechtler, on the occasion of the museum’s opening January 2, 2010.
The exhibition includes paintings, drawings, collage, prints, jewelry and sculpture created between the late 1950s and '70s. Family photos and correspondence provide a glimpse of the Bechtlers’ life in this treasured Swiss town.
Italo Valenti (left, shown in a photograph from 1967) lived near the Bechtlers' summer home in Ascona, Switzerland and became close friends with the Bechtler family. He also served as a mentor to Bechtler Museum of Modern Art patron Andreas Bechtler (right) who was an inspiring artist in the years he knew Valenti. Valenti was very generous to the Bechtler family and often gifted them with whimsical postcards and small paintings and collages, usually in remembrance of special days such as birthdays.