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All art is political: Switzerland’s Blocher puts masterpieces on display

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All art is political: Switzerland's Blocher puts masterpieces on display

Swiss billionaire and politician Christoph Blocher poses in front of a painting by Ferdinand Hodler "Vue du Leman depuis Chexbres" after a guided media tour of his collection at the Gianadda Foundation in Martigny, Switzerland on December 6, 2019. REUTERS / Denis Balibouse

MARTIGNY, Switzerland (Reuters) – Christoph Blocher's vast collection of works by Swiss master painters is a fitting follow-up to the decades of the 79-year-old billionaire at the forefront of right-wing Swiss politics.

A sample of 127 pieces from his private treasure, exhibited at the Pierre Gianadda Foundation in Martigny from December to June, celebrates Switzerland's rural roots and iconic geography, with a hint of the heroic folk identity that Blocher has long espoused.

A former government minister of the anti-immigrant Swiss People's Party, Blocher is his country's best-known politician and polarizer. Since the 1980s, he has defended an independent and sovereign Switzerland firmly outside the surrounding European Union.

The majority owner of EMS Chemie, a manufacturer of polymers and chemicals, took advantage of his $ 11 billion ($ 11.03 billion) fortune to build one of the world's most comprehensive collections of Swiss artwork.

His populist view of a beleaguered nation from the outside world clearly informs his taste for art. The collection includes Ferdinand Hodler's monumental "Retreat de Marignano", depicting the battlefield defeat of 1515 that in Swiss mythology marks the nation's internal turn toward neutrality.

Hodler's expressionist blue-toned landscapes, including the mist-shrouded Eiger and the 2190-meter Stockhorn above Lake Thun, as well as Albert's bucolic 19th-century peasant scenes, are also well represented. Anker, who celebrate the village life, for which Blocher is deeply involved. Affection shines.

In 2015, Blocher paid 4.2 million francs for Anker's "Wine Festival", painted in 1865, at an auction in Zurich.

"There is a historical constant in our country, and that is the eternal pressure being exerted on our nation," Blocher said in a speech this year. "For seven hundred years, it's been that way."

As his political career declined, Blocher, a captivating speaker whose rustic, frank-speaking style drew him to loyal supporters, even as his right-wing ideas infuriated his enemies, began lending selected works to the country's small museums. may like it too, ”as he told a Swiss newspaper in 2015 for a previous exhibition.

Report by Denis Balibouse, written by John Miller; Edition by Gareth Jones

Our standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles. . (tagsToTranslate) USA (t) SWITZERLAND (t) ART (t) General news (t) Art (t) Switzerland (t) Western Europe (t) Europe (t) Government (s) / Politics (t) Human interest / Brights / Odd News

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