The Othmar Huber Collection

From 8 November 2024

The art collection of Swiss ophthalmologist Othmar Huber (1892, Aargau – 1979, Glarus, Switzerland) reflects the collector’s life and passions. Against the backdrop of his medical training and experiences in a wartime field hospital, Huber was inspired by Paul Klee’s statement that “art … makes visible.”

As an experimental collector, Othmar Huber was quick to recognize the qualities of artists whose works had not yet become expensive brand name items. He thus acquired pictures by Klee and Kandinsky, Jawlensky, and Werefkin as early as the 1930s.

1939 saw the “Verwertungsstelle” of Germany’s National Socialist regime offer “degenerate art” for sale in an auction entitled “Modern Masters from German Museums” at Galerie Fischer in Lucerne. Huber feared that the Nazis would destroy those works that could not be sold, which did indeed come to pass later on. To fund his purchases of “degenerate art” by Marc, Macke, and Picasso, Huber had to sell the lion’s share of his existing collection: “What I continually gave away in exchange would hardly have made a worse collection than the present one.” His decisions were always spontaneous: “Whenever I hesitated in front of a picture and asked myself how I’d be able to pay for it or where I’d want to hang it, I knew it wasn’t a strong artwork.”

Shortly prior to his death in 1979, Huber established a foundation to which he transferred the works he had collected—and the paintings now exhibited here, normally kept at the Museum of Fine Arts Berne and Kunsthaus Glarus, are on loan from this Othmar Huber Foundation.

Since 2020, the Othmar Huber Collection has enriched the permanent exhibition Monet to Picasso. The Batliner Collection by 15 selected works, rounding out the existing presentation by high-caliber key works of modernism. The exhibition The Huber Collection now provides an opportunity to view the entire range of works acquired by this experimental collector.

On view at the ALBERTINA from 8 November 2024 until 9 February 2025. 

Image Gallery – 2 Images

 

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