A Look Back at Bruno Bischofberger’s Weird and Legendary Artforum Ads
Here are some of our favorites.
In contrast to the works by well-known artists that appear on the front cover of Artforum each month, on the back cover you’re more likely to see some goats, snowy Alpine peaks, or men in Lederhosen. These scenes are the advertisements by Swiss art dealer Bruno Bischofberger and they have graced the back cover of Artforum for more than half of the magazine’s existence. And now, as Bischofberger leaves his St. Moritz space (see Vito Schnabel Taking Over Bruno Bischofberger’s Gallery Space), we take a look back at the celebrated back covers.
Born in the town of Appenzell, Bischofberger studied at the University of Zurich, receiving his Ph.D. on Swiss folk art—a genre which he collects to this day. He opened his first gallery in Zurich in 1963, and a couple of years later organized an exhibition of American Pop artists that included Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, Robert Rauschenberg, and Tom Wesselmann. The Swiss dealer is credited with introducing Warhol’s work to big time art collectors such as shipping heir Philippe Niarchos and businessman and long-time friend Peter Brant. Bischofberger and Brant would go on to be the founding financial backers of Warhol’s magazine, Interview.
Since the time Artforum first offered the back cover to Bischofberger, in the mid-1980s, the ads have continually occupied that coveted spot. When asked if the closing of Bischofberger’s St. Moritz space will affect the gallery’s advertisements with Artforum, Silvia Lüdi, the collection manager of the gallery, told artnet News, “We have [advertised] since the beginning and we will continue with the ads. The St. Mortiz gallery has no connection with what we are doing here [in Zurich].” Bischofberger still owns a gallery space in central Zurich and let’s not forget the recent news of his mega complex (see Bruno Bischofberger Prepares to Unveil Mega Art Complex).
Lüdi also told us that the gallery only advertises in one other magazine, a Swiss publication titled Kunst Bulletin—with whom the gallery also holds the prime position of its back cover.
Bischofberger’s aesthetic is characteristically Swiss in its incredible consistency. And he’s got the formula down: one photograph, often portraying a picturesque landscape, a common Swiss activity or ceremony, with boldly-colored graphic letters in the ad’s corner spelling out the gallery’s address and the artists it represents (this month’s includes Barceló, Basquiat, and Dokoupil). While Bischofberger may be leaving one gallery space as a dealer of a younger generation steps up, thankfully, with his fun and timeless ads, tradition carries on.
Follow Artnet News on Facebook:
Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward.