At this Zurich restaurant, food takes a backseat to the artwork
ZURICH - There is a restaurant here called the Kronenhalle, known not just for its fine cuisine but also for its amazing collection of works by Pablo Picasso, Marc Chagall, Henri Matisse, Joan Miró, Paul Klee, and Albert and Diego Giacometti, to name a few.
Gottlieb and Hulda Zumsteg purchased the Kronenhalle in 1925. Displaying art on the walls started during World War II, when the restaurant was the gathering place for artists from all over Europe seeking refuge in neutral Switzerland from the Nazis.
Hulda would feed the struggling artists whatever was left over in the kitchen. She encouraged them to display their work on the restaurant’s walls for her customers to purchase.
The collection was the work of her son, Gustav, who succeeded first in the silk business, then in the art world. He came to know all the right couturiers - Chanel, Dior, Givenchy, Balenciaga, Saint Laurent - and through them he became friends with Chagall, Matisse, Miró, the Giacomettis, and others.
Zumsteg (1915-2005) commissioned the Giacomettis to design the tables and lamps in the brasserie bar. He persuaded Chagall to design the stained glass window on the outside wall and got Picasso to donate several sketches. On the walls he placed original works by Robert Rauschenberg, Jean Tinguely, Paul Klee, and the Giacomettis.
At Kronenhalle, it’s all about good taste.
Restaurant Kronenhalle, Ramistrasse 4, CH-8001 Zurich, 011-41-44-262-99-00, www.kronenhalle.com. FRAN FOLSOM