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30 Years Mai 36 Galerie – As Long As It Lasts

I became a gallerist in 1988 when I stepped beyond being interested in looking at and enjoying the art that I saw 
in museums and started showing, telling and selling what I liked in contemporary art.

"Gallery with high ambitions" - newspaper article about the gallery opening in Lucerne in 1988.

Together with Sandro Künzle I founded Mai 36 Galerie in 1987. Soon after we asked Luigi Kurmann to become technical director and made him partner a few years later.

Since opening Mai 36 Galerie at Maihofstrasse 36
 in Lucerne in February 1988, my goal has always been to exhibit art that I care about deeply, that is new to Switzerland, relevant for the time we live in, and global in its dialogue. I have remained committed to the art I love over all these years and am proud to still be working with a large group of artists today, whom I have already exhibited in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

The gallery program of the first year after the opening in 1988.

Text-based art and works that address important social, political or cultural issues are probably the categories of
 art that I love, besides my sincere interest and enthusiasm for photography.

Starting a contemporary gallery in the heart of Switzerland—as Lucerne is known as—, was not easy at the time, with Basel, Berne and later Zurich being the epicenters of contemporary art in the country.

Luigi Kurmann, Lawrence Weiner, Victor Gisler

We went on to establish the gallery in the mid 1990s in Zurich and ever since, through the support of the local and international art community and through participation in international art fairs, have seen a constant growth.

One of the first art fairs, we have ever visited...

Over the course of three decades, the art world has changed dramatically. Everything has drastically increased in speed. Nowadays everyone knows everyone—and 
everyone can see everything immediately—no matter where, no matter when. But I still believe it’s crucial to experience art in person. There’s no better way to understand the artists thinking and the ideas or the beauty of what they are doing than by visiting galleries and institutional shows.

...moving into the new gallery offices in Zurich.

I feel lucky and honoured to be able to offer a place and structure

- to artists where they can show what they do

- to collectors where they can purchase what they enjoy

to curators where they can discuss

- to critics where they can study

- and to all other art professionals and enthusiasts where they can experience what they love the most: art to be seen for the very first time in a gallery exhibition.

Victor Gisler, Remy Zaugg

I’m thankful to the artists, who are the heart and mind of the gallery, without whom there would only exist a blank space. I thank you for your courage, trust and belief in us and for all the good times we have had together. 
I’m grateful to the collectors with whom we have worked and salute you for your confidence and companionship. Mai 36 Galerie would never have lasted three decades without the engagement and contributions of all who have worked with me. I have had the great pleasure and fortune to employ the best of the best and I am very thankful
 for their hard work, their great spirit, talent and dedication.

John Baldessari, Victor Gisler

Dear artists, friends and people I have met at the gallery’s entrance over all these years, I thank you for having made these thirty years a wonderful journey.

–Victor Gisler

Exhibition View of the first ever Mai 36 show in 1988 with works by Les Levine.

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