In the first decade of the 20th century, Swiss merchant Hermann Rupf (b. 1880; d. 1962) and his wife, Margrit Wirz (b. 1887; d. 1961), began to purchase works created by young Swiss and European artists. Hermann Rupf had befriended art dealer Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler in his youth, which helped him gain access to the art world and enhanced his acumen as a collector. The fact that the Rupfs welcomed Kahnweiler in their home from the outbreak of World War I until the end of the conflict attests to the close relationship that bound them together.

But Rupf went even further in his role as enthusiastic collector and forged close bonds with numerous artists—including Georges Braque, André Derain, Juan Gris, Paul Klee, and Pablo Picasso—and musicians—such as Robert Casadeus and Hans Kayser—whom financial helped as their friend and patron. In the 1930s, Rupf actually served as a kind of economic advisor to Vasily Kandinsky and his wife, Nina. When the Bauhaus Dessau was closed, the Kandinskys moved to Bern for a while, and there they became close friends with the Rupfs, whom they had met through their mutual friends Paul Klee and his wife Lily. Many of these personages, who were part of Margrit and Hermann’s life, appear in the images displayed in this space.

Hermann Rupf enjoyed a good social and economic status thanks to his mercery and haberdashery, a business which kept abreast of the latest fashion trends, allowing him to travel to the European cities that were at the forefront of modernity, such as Paris and London. Rupf also had keen social concerns which in 1910 drove him to create the Education Commission with the Workers’ Union of Bern, an entity that organized trips, lectures, and artistic visits for workers, an innovative venture which stretched beyond  the boundaries of the conventional.

This open spirit, a far cry from the traditional staid society of Bern, also led Rupf to write cultural critiques in the Social Democratic weekly Berner Tagwacht between 1909 and 1931. Until 1914, these critiques revolved mainly around music and opera, but thereafter they honed in on art. The legacy, spirit, and social concerns of Hermann and Margrit Rupf still resonate with us today, and their Foundation continues to purchase works that build bridges between modern and contemporary art.


Dormitorio en casa de los Rupf, Brückfeldstrasse 27, en Berna, en torno a 1960.
Fotografía: Leonardo Bezzola.


Hermann y Margrit Rupf en Tarasp.
Fotografía: N. Rauch.
Archivo Kayser, Archivo Bibliográfico de la Biblioteca Nacional de Suiza.

Mercería y Pasamanería

R. Hossmann-Rupf, Mercería y Pasamanería, Waisenhausplatz de Berna, ca. 1907.
Fotógrafo desconocido, Archivo Fürst/Stähli, Berna.