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Fondation Giannada
Modern Art and Vintage Cars

The little town of Martigny is located about half an hour outside Montreux (Lake Geneva). It is home to the Pierre Giannada Art Foundation which is well worth a visit. The museum - specialised in contempory art - has established a name for itself far beyond the borders of Switzerland. One reason for its fame is the Foundation's spectacular park with sculptures by Rodin, Miro, Tinguely and Giacometti.


The open-air museum often provides the stage for events of all kinds. Great musicians such as Rostropovich and Menuhin have played here and apart from classical concerts the foundation also organises regular exhibitions. President of the Foundation is Leondard Giannada:

Leonard Giannada:
The museum was set up in 1976. I am an engineer and at that
time I wanted to build a house but during the building work we came across the remains of a Gallo-Roman temple - the oldest one ever discovered in Switzerland. I did not know what to do because I had a building permit, but on the other hand, I didn't want to rip up this fascinating find. It was at this time that my younger brother Pierre had a terrible plane accident. During an Egyptian expedition the machine suddenly caught fire. My brother managed to escape with four other people. Two people, however, were trapped, screaming in the private jet. My brother went back wanting to rescue his friends and was severely injured. A few days later he died as a result of his tragic accident. I set up this foundation in his memory.

During our visit there was a spectacular exhibition of work by Marc Chagall, one of the most important painters of the 20th century. Born in 1887 to Jewish parents in Russia , Chagall later studied art in Paris, although he made regular visits home to St. Petersburg and Moscow.

Leonard Giannada:
Here you can see almost the whole collection of works from Chagall's Russian period. This period lasted from about 1910 - 1922. We have actually managed to bring together all his well known paintings from public and private collections from the former Soviet Union. Nine Russian museums have loaned us works.

What makes this exhibition so special is that it is the first tim e that we are showing the decor from the Jewish theatre that Chagall painted in 1920. When Chagall left Russia two years later, he had to leave his works behind and the Jewish theatre was closed by Stalin in 1928. Chagall's friends rolled up the canvases - which are extremely big - and looked after then under the most difficult conditions - some tim es even risking their life to do so. We paid to have these canvases restored and so were able to exhibit them for the first time world-wide.  

Chagall's work is tremendously powerful. Few people are aware of the fact that the versatile artist also illustrated books and etchings and made porcelain and mosaic in addition to his work for his paintings and stage sets. Much of Chagall's work contains references to his childhood in Russia - episodes that are skilfully and imaginatively transformed into this floating dream images.

Although Chagall was influenced at different stages of his career by the late impressionists, the Cubists and the surrealists, it is not possible to assign him to a particular school. He always had his own individual style. During our visit this exhibition was doing a world tour. More information about this renowned artist is available from the Chagall museum in Nice.


Leonard Giannada:
Here we are in the car museum of the Pierre Giannada Foundation. We have about 50 cars here, the youngest of which was built in 1939, the oldest in the last century. All are in perfect running order and are regularly taken out for drives. Recently, the wife of a foreign affairs minister was here and we took her out for a run-around in this old-timer - a Swiss Pic Pic from 1911.

It really made a terrific picture... taking her out for a drive in this car. We have a magnificent collection of Swiss vintage cars here because there used to be a car industry in Switzerland. The exhibits are highly unusual and we can actually claim that this exhibition is one of the best in the world.

Rolls Royce, Benz and Bugatti - the historic car museum is a feast for the eyes not just for car freaks. Every art and culture enthusiast will find something to satisfy him at the Pierre Giannada Foundation. I strongly recommend you pop in the when you are next in the area. Martigny is in the heart of French-speaking Switzerland and is just a short trip from Lake Geneva.



* This special feature "Fondation Giannada" has been one of more than 300 Portraits, produced by Nathalie Gütermann for her TV-Shows 'Nathalie's Lifestyle' and 'Nathalie's Art of Living' that were broadcasted between 1990 - 2003 in Germany and in 15 countries world-wide. The content has been updated with actual information in 2004 for © 1990 - 2004. The reproduction or other use of any text, photographs,layout etc. needs the prior written permission of the Chief Publisher.

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