With works by Hans Arp, Georges Braque, Alexander Calder, Martin Disler, Alberto Giacometti, Joan Miró, Roman Signer, Gerhard Richter, Antoni Tàpies and many others, the University of St.Gallen (HSG) possesses unique art in architecture like no other public university anywhere in the world. The HSG has been able to attract such high-calibre artists thanks to visionary minds with perseverance and the generosity of private donors.
When Walter Förderer won the anonymous architectural competition for the new campus of the commercial college on the Rosenberg in 1957, to everyone's surprise, the foundation stone was laid for the remarkable art in architecture at the University of St.Gallen (HSG). With his buildings, the young architect and sculptor wanted to create not only “walk-in sculptures” but an artistic synthesis. Therefore, art was part of the planning from the onset The desired holistic education was also to be manifested in the university’s buildings. Prof. Eduard Naegeli was also responsible for selecting the artists. The then president of the St. Gallen Art Association was appointed head of the HSG Art Committee. It was thanks to his contacts with the Maeght Gallery in Paris and his perseverance that eminent representatives of modern art were able to be brought to St.Gallen. They created their works explicitly for the new campus. The works were financed by donations from companies, foundations and private individuals, as well as by the sale of lithographs, which the artists provided free of charge.
“I was impressed by what artworks the University of St.Gallen has. ‘St.Gallen’ was one of the most enjoyable commissions.”
“The high-calibre art at my alma mater has always given me new angles on life and my studies, inspired me in many ways and occasionally just made me dream.”
“I have always been impressed by the low-threshold access to the top-class works of art for students and staff. This shows them appreciation and trust, they are proud of ‘their’ art and treat it with respect.”
“I never cease to be impressed by how the art in architecture connects a wide variety of people and promotes communication. The collection is an essential part of the campus and it's hard to imagine student life without it.”
Works by Surrealist artists are a focus in the main building from 1963, which is known beyond the country's borders as an important example of 1960s architecture. Among them are works by Hans Arp, Alberto Giacometti, Joan Miró and Antoni Tàpies. The library building from 1989 and the Weiterbildungszentrum Holzweid executive training centre from 1995 contain paintings and sculptures by representatives of Neo-Expressionism and the Italian Transavanguardia (Enzo Cucchi and Mimmo Paladino) In addition, there are works that belong to different trends and genres of contemporary art or that defy purely stylistic classification. Since the renovation of the main building (2011), new spaces have been opened up for art and numerous contemporary works of art have also been placed at the HSG locations in the city. At SQUARE, there are two of them so far, Mai-Thu Perret’s brass objects, which the artist associates with learning and teaching, and Tony Cragg's “Ourea”. A project team has already started work on the art in architecture at the future “Platztor” campus.
In our video interviews, artists whose works can be seen at the HSG talk about their work and their idea of art in architecture: including Tony Cragg, Zilla Leutenegger, Yan Pei-Ming, Gerhard Richter, Roman Signer or Felice Varini.
Would you like to experience the art on the HSG campus for yourself? The works presented in our premises are anything but museum-like: they are integrated into the architecture and everyday student life. Almost all of the works were created by the artists specifically for the respective location rather than just being installed afterwards. The result is a dialogue between art and architecture that runs through all HSG buildings. For further information and to book group tours, please contact the student association proArte or the president of the Art Committee.
In addition to collaborating with well-established big names, the Art Committee has also repeatedly supported artists who were at the beginning of their careers. One example is the art@tell project, which was financed by an alumnus and organised by a curator. For five years from 2013 to 2018, the HSG invited a select group of 15 aspiring artists from various cultural backgrounds to St.Gallen for temporary exhibitions. At the end of the five-year cycle, some of the works remained at the HSG forever.