In fulfilment of their father’s wish, Tzila and Aviel Krugier created the Jan Krugier Foundation on December 10, 2010.
This private non-profit foundation was opened to allow artworks to move from the private to the public sphere through exhibitions where they can be displayed.
The foundation is headquartered in Lausanne, Switzerland. The head office is managed by the Foundation Council comprising:
- Mrs. Tzila Krugier, President
- Mr. Aviel Krugier, Vice-President
- Mr. Nicolas Lambelet
- Mr. Nicholas Denat
- Mr. Nader Tewelde
Jan Krugier, my father, always dreamt of a foundation where, discovering the treasures destiny had placed in his care, young and old alike could feel as keenly as he did the need to re-learn how to look at art. That is, how to raise their eyes to a painting the same way a music lover listens to the melancholy of a distant melody. It requires a certain prudence to keep alive the hope of an unexpected encounter, of real physical and sensual contact, even in the silence or in the invisible, with the pulse of living artworks.
In hindsight, this would look something like my father’s own initiation, his tireless quest. At ten years old, I did not realize how fortunate I was to witness it. From our visits together, I remember the feeling of sharing by his side special moments in the search he had made his life’s work… His discovery of works on paper, for instance, stands apart. This medium, free from aesthetic codes and conventions, seems to him to emerge, in all its forms –drawing, sketch, prints, wash, China ink– so spontaneously, and from a source so close to the soul, that he remained deeply moved by it until the end of his life.
My father always spoke of “transmission” when trying to introduce me to the art of looking at works of art, whether by the Old Masters, modern or contemporary artists. It was always a question of finding the “little path” that comes from the past to join us in the present on its way to the future… He wanted to show me the “common thread” that links contemporary artworks to the past, along with the inspiration the artists of tomorrow would draw from them, and in that he succeeded. It was only through art that Jan could freely express himself.
Hence the importance he placed on the artist’s first draft. In pen, ink, or charcoal these “first strokes” are dazzling gestures above any kind of trickery. My father never tired of these few lines that arise from the deepest intuitions, and by which the artist could envisage a completed work to come, somewhere other than on paper –in painting or sculpture.
He would try to remain humble in victory when, not without a hint of mischief, he would return again to these “first strokes” that are loved or unloved, and that might very well have ended up in shreds or ashes. “So what?” Jan would conclude, “You simply start again. But it will always remain a first draft.”
Jan Krugier was always fascinated by drawings. He made his first acquisition, a work by Georges Seurat, in the early 70s. It was the beginning of a great adventure! His bed transformed into a desk piled high with books on history, art, and politics; he devoured them all, which explains why he would as gladly speak with you of history or politics as he would of art. Eager to learn, he spent most of his time in the Drawings Departments of museums. It was on the Old Masters that he trained his eye, plumbing the depths of the past that imbues our present.
I distinctly remember one exhibition of drawings where he made appear to me, with passion and rigor, that “common thread” running across the centuries from Tintoretto to Willem de Kooning via Cézanne. It is impossible to forget how tightly he held my hand, so tightly in fact that it would turn red, whenever we neared a drawing by Leonardo da Vinci or Jacopo Bellini!
Neither have I forgotten how impressed I was by the rituals he observed during his relentless visits to private collections or to auction houses, surveying them minutely, open to the most improbable encounters with whatever works drew its attention… These were a prelude to a careful investigation into provenance, and to a thorough search of the libraries, interspersed with a dozen return-trips to the work itself to ensure its charms had not faded. Only then would he request the work be removed from its frame, so he could determine with just his hands the condition of paper –always focused but, I knew, with his heart pounding. He confessed to me that he would have sudden stomach pains when he was ready to buy!
He was amongst the first to acquire Victor Hugo’s wash drawings; it was their modernity that impressed him, but many branded him an “antiques dealer”. He braved the mockery until, one day, the director of an important museum bumped into him at an art fair while inspecting one of the wash drawings, and asked sarcastically: ‘So Jan, are you showing Beuys now?” I watched my overjoyed father recounting in the finest detail, like an excited little boy, how “This gentleman confused Victor Hugo with Beuys! What sweet revenge!” I understood then that my father was not the kind of man to remain complacent with his peers’ reluctance to appreciate the contemporary character of some works, starting with these timeless wash drawings by Victor Hugo –works on paper, yet again!
In thirty years, Jan collected more than 130 drawings dating from the fourteenth to the eighteenth centuries. Obviously he did not stop there, being on something of a winning streak. His collection of works on paper embraced the twenty-first century too, but that is another story…
So my father envisaged a foundation that would testify to his passion for works on paper. My brother and I promised to create it, and here it is...
May the public in turn share in the passion he so generously and lovingly imparted to us…