Art in her DNA: UES dealer traces roots to grandma’s gallery in Germany

Isabelle Bscher, who now co-manages a UES gallery NY and and others in Switzerland, says the art world is in her blood and always felt it was her destiny. Galerie Gmurzynska, which she runs with her mother, was founded by her grandmother in Cologne, Germany.

| 10 Apr 2023 | 03:47

Gallerist Isabelle Bscher jokes that she learned to walk at Art Basel, the international art show in Miami where her family regularly attended.

The proprietor of Galerie Gmurzynska who runs a gallery in New York and three others in Switzerland said she has always felt it was her destiny to run a gallery. She is the third generation to be involved with running Galerie Gmurzynska, founded by her grandmother, Antonina Gmurzynska, in Cologne, Germany. Bscher’s mother, Krystyna Gmurzynska, took over the gallery in 1985. She relocated the flagship to Switzerland in 2005, and the mother and daughter duo now work together. In 2017, they opened their New York City gallery at 43 E 78th St.

Isabelle grew up in the Swiss-founded gallery, surrounded by priceless artworks and glittering art-world personalities. The family-run business was also connected to her childhood home in Cologne. She jokes that she learned to walk at Art Basel, as she accompanied her mother to the fair since infancy. “The gallery and my life have been so deeply intertwined, it’s hard to separate one and the other,” she says. “I felt from a very early point that I was part of it; I always knew I wanted to be a gallerist.”

Karl Lagerfeld: Designer, Photographer & Artist

Living among colorful characters, Bscher certainly has stories to tell. She calls Karl Lagerfeld, whom she once represented, “the king of the one-liner.” “Everything he said was incredibly funny. He’d ask me about somebody, and I’d say, ‘They have a lot of tattoos,’ and he would say, ‘Having a tattoo is like spending your whole life in a Pucci dress.’” Lagerfeld, she recalls, was a fantastic drafter; constantly drawing. “The most exciting was when he would send drawings and sketches to the gallery as a surprise. It was always such a treat.”

She is also in high demand to curate shows at museums and philanthropic galas around the world. This includes a recent show at Villa Paloma, the New National Museum of Monaco, at the request of Prince Albert of Monaco. “It was a great show. It actually drew the most visitors ever to the museum in Monaco.”

Picasso, Kandinsky, James Turrell, Robert Indiana & Yves Klein.

Gmurzynska represents modern masters including Picasso, Kandinsky, James Turrell, Robert Indiana, and Yves Klein. She also represents designer Karl Lagerfeld’s photography, Sylvester Stallone’s paintings, and architects, such as the late Zaha Hadid and Richard Meier. Meier has used the gallery’s catalogs in his collages, and once designed their booth at Art Basel Miami. Bscher’s Galerie also manages the estates of prominent artists, including Wilfredo Lam, Roberto Matta, Louise Nevelson, and Spanish surrealist Joan Miró, with whose family Bscher works with closely.

“Marjorie Strider: Girls, Girls, Girls!“

Her current exhibit, titled “Marjorie Strider: Girls, Girls, Girls!” is a solo retrospective with works from 1963 to 2014 of Strider’s most iconic motif: the female figure. One of the earliest works featured is Triptych II, Beach Girl, 1963. The critically acclaimed 1964 group showing “First International Girlie Exhibition” at Pace Gallery included this piece, as well as works from other titans of Pop, including Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, Tom Wesselmann, and Mel Ramos. The piece is an early example of Strider’s “Girlies” and places her firmly in Pop Art history, adding not only a female perspective but a feminist one as well.

Strider literally pushed the boundaries of painting into further dimensions with her three-dimensional reliefs of pin-up girls, a genre she invented and referred to as shaped canvas. With contributions from Lucy Lippard, Sid Sachs, Sabra Moore, and Jérôme Neutres, the exhibition’s fully illustrated catalog presents unpublished highlights from Strider’s archive. Allowing the viewer to witness her central role in the network of Post-War American masters with the likes of Carl Andre, Eva Hesse, Sol Le Witt, and Marisol.

“I felt from a very early point that I was part of it; I always knew I wanted to be a gallerist.” Isabelle Brscher, third generation running Galleria Gmurzynska