Basel is the cultural capital of Switzerland; the Alps also have art worth seeing. See our city and countryside guide


It’s no secret that Switzerland’s pastoral image belies a cutting-edge art scene, with Basel – the third largest city and smallest canton, lying along the Rhine just at the intersection of the French borders. , German and Swiss – as the unofficial culture of the Capital country.

The Alps also have a fair share of art worth visiting. The largest and most south-eastern of the 26 cantons, home to glamorous St. Moritz and a thousand mountain peaks, Graubünden is not only Heidi’s birthplace, they have also given us modern and contemporary artists from Alberto Giacometti at Not vital (which now calls a castle in the Engadine valley one of its houses).

For discerning travelers looking to experience the best of both worlds on a quick but rejuvenating trip to Switzerland (with as little as 10 hours’ notice, no less), NetJets offers personalized service with increased attention to detail gained through over 55 years of experience, cutting-edge standards and a multilingual team dedicated to anticipating your every need.

Gute Reise!

BASEL: Days 1-3

Art Basel is back in Switzerland. Courtesy of Art Basel.

To see and do: After being canceled last year, Basel Art returns in a new hybrid form, with digital and IRL editions hosting 272 galleries from around the world.

The Messeplatz will host site-specific interventions by Cecilia Bengolea, of Argentinian origin, who stages a video and a performance in her fountain, as well as by Briton Monster Chetwynd, whose Salvador Dalí-inspired work involves dancers in balloons. giants.

Inside, Giovanni Carmine, the director of Kunst Halle Sankt Gallen in Switzerland, has organized 62 large-scale projects, including the first of David Hockney‘s optical illusion The painting Pictures at an exhibition (2018/2021). And Samuel Leuenberger, founder of the Swiss non-profit arts space Salts, has planted 20 installations and in situ performances throughout the city.

Annika Elisabeth von Hausswolff, The hole is a name # 5, 2020, at Art Basel. Courtesy of the artist and Andréhn-Schiptjenko.

Of course, Basel is full of art – even the headquarters of Novartis and Roche have remarkable collections (sometimes they open for tours). The piano designed by Renzo Beyeler Foundation– who will soon add an extension by starch maker Peter Zumthor – now presents “Close-Up” (September 19, 2021 – January 2, 2022), which includes portraits and self-portraits of nine renowned modernist women, from Berthe Morisot to Frida Kahlo to Elizabeth Peyton.

Do not miss “Kara walker: A Black Hole is Everything a Star Longs to Be ”(until September 26) at Kunstmuseum Basel. While Walker is known for her wall-sized figures, drawing on paper is the foundation of her practice. This exhibition presents, for the first time in public, more than 600 sketches, collages and large-format works from the artist’s personal archives, in which she explores her identity as a black woman in America.

Kara Walker in her exhibition at the Kunstmuseum.
Photo: Ari Marcopoulos.

Included between Weiss / Falk (co-founded by friends Oliver Falk and Oskar Weiss, son of the late Swiss artist David weiss) and Wilde (currently showing works by the English sculptor and installation artist Cornelia Parker, until November 19) —not to mention a new generation of spaces managed by artists such as Love, Giulietta, and Palazzina– The Basel gallery scene is doing well too.

It is worth crossing the border to the German town of Weil am Rhein, if only to visit the Mecca of architecture and design which is the Vitra Campus, whose Frank gehry– the designed museum shows “Here We Are! Women in Design 1900 to Today ”(September 23, 2021 – March 6, 2022). In addition to its flagship store (designed by Herzog & de Meuron), conference pavilion (Tadao Ando), fire station (Zaha Hadid), and observation tower and slide (Carsten Holler), the Swiss furniture maker has just unveiled a 43,000 square foot perennial garden by Dutch landscape designer Piet Oudolf.

The new garden of the Vitra Campus, designed by Piet Oudolf. Courtesy of Vitra.

Eat and drink: At Kunsthalle Restaurant, located inside the eponymous institution for emerging artists, you can dine – say, French duck liver with apple slices, blueberry juice and calvados – under a sprawling ceiling light created by the late designer Danish and former Basel resident Verner Panton, who frequented the restaurant. Panton reconstructed thousands of translucent shell fragments over the course of 15 years; the resulting luminaire was installed a few years ago amid works of art by Samuel buri, Bruce nauman, and Danh Vo.

Less formal, the Herzog & de Meuron brewery inside Volkshaus—The Basel Concert Hall circa 1925 – completes its menu of French and Swiss comfort food with an impressive collection of contemporary art, including all original works from the book “Recettes d’artistes” (by Marina Abramović, Roger ballen, and Anish kapoor, to only cite a few). There is also a new 45 room hotel, also designed by Herzog & de Meuron. Its hall doubles as a satellite gallery by the Swiss Von Bartha, now with works by the Irish-Welsh sculptor Barry flanagan.

The Volkshaus concert hall and brewery in Basel has a new
Hotel designed by Herzog & de Meuron. Photo: Robert Rieger.

To stay: Since 1681, when it was founded as a “gentlemen’s inn”, the Grand Hotel Les Trois Rois welcomed everyone from Napoleon Bonaparte to Ella Fitzgerald. With frescoed walls and views of the Rhine in several of its 101 suites – not to mention the three Michelin star Cheval Blanc, the cigar bar or the new Pedrazzini boat (the only one on the Rhine, handcrafted in Switzerland ) – it is still the most luxurious address in the old town.

A suite at the Grand Hôtel Les Trois Rois. Courtesy of the hotel.

Fly from Basel to Grisons

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FATS: Days 3–6

To see and do: In 2019, Polish art entrepreneur and collector Grażyna Kulczyk unveiled his non-profit organization Susch Museum on the site of a medieval monastery and brewery in the Engadine Valley. It is a space of experimental works in situ alongside temporary exhibitions by conceptual and female artists. Until December 5, 2021, “The measure of time”, a retrospective of the deceased Italian artist Laura Grisi, reconstituting a range of its immersive environments inspired by natural phenomena (fog, rain, wind).

Tarasp Castle in the Engadine is a home and exhibition space for Swiss artist Not Vital. (Photo by Albert Ceolan / Agostini Image Library via Getty Images)

The Engadine is also where the multidisciplinary artist Not vital has its foundation, including the 17th century Planta house in Ardez, with its library of historic Rummantsch writings, as well as a painting studio and sculpture park in the mountain village of Sent, his birthplace. During this time he calls a ca.-1040 castle in Tarasp’s house (when he’s not in Beijing or Rio de Janeiro, of course); it also houses and sometimes exhibits its collection of ancient, modern and contemporary art, as well as works by artists near and far. They are all worth the detour (note: you will have to book tours of the castle and the Planta house).

There is also a thriving gallery scene. Join Vito Schnabel– which features large-scale abstract paintings on raw burlap by Los Angeles-based artist Spencer Lewis through September 26, 2021 –Hauser & Wirth returned to its Swiss roots a few years ago by opening a three-level space designed by Luis Laplace in the center of St. Moritz. Further, Tschudi Gallery presents new works of Arte Povera and minimalist art in a medieval building in the village of Zuoz, while Von Bartha invites artists to invest the barn of a historic patrician house near S-chanf.

A dish at the two Michelin stars Igniv, inside the
Grand Resort Bad Ragaz. Courtesy of the station.

Eat and drink: While the Grand Resort Bad Ragaz is widely known for its thermal spa, based around the healing waters of the city’s Tamina Gorge, it is also increasingly famous for its food. Even if you are not staying at the establishment, we suggest that you reserve a table in one of its Michelin-starred restaurants. Chef Sven Wassmer draws his inspiration and seasonal ingredients from the Swiss Alps to Souvenirs, while Igniv offers menus with up to 30 dishes designed to be shared, from Grisons-born chef Andreas Caminada.

Sky Watchers Inside James Turrell’s Skyspace Piz Utèr,
at the Castell hotel. Courtesy of the hotel.

To stay: Originally built ca. 1913 as an alpine sanatorium in Zuoz, the 68 rooms Hotel Castell offers total immersion in art. Its owner, the Swiss artist and collector Ruedi Bechtler, invited many renowned artists to develop on-site projects, Pipilotti Rist (who designed the Red Bar with Zurich architect Gabrielle Hächlero) to Tadashi kawamata (see sunny terrace and swimming pool) at James turrell (you will want to spend time contemplating the sky in its outdoor installation, Skyspace Piz Utèr).

With its thermal baths made from 60,000 plates of local quartzite by none other than Peter Zumthor, 7132 Hotel Vals– named after the region’s postal code – is a destination for both well-being and design. For its partner hotel House of Architects, 7132 called on Tadao Ando, ​​Kengo Kuma, Thom Mayne and Zumthor to create a series of Zen-style suites with views of the Grisons mountains.

The thermal baths designed by Peter Zumthor at Hotel 7132 in Vals, Switzerland.  Copyright: Global image creation - Hotel 7132, Vals - Switzerland.

The thermal baths designed by Peter Zumthor at Hotel 7132 in Vals, Switzerland. Copyright: Global Image Creation – Hotel 7132, Vals – Switzerland.

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