Art from Switzerland

Pamela Rosenkranz for Ricola
Kaspar Müller for Ricola
Vivian Suter for Ricola
Shirana Shahbazi for Ricola
Ricola Collection Prize
Guiding Ideas

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The history of the Swiss family-owned company Ricola AG extends back to the 1920s. In 1924 the baker Emil Richterich purchased the Bleile bakery in his native town, Laufen, a small rural town near Basel. In 1930 he founded the Richterich & Co. confectionery factory, which produced a wide assortment of more than eighty different articles. The first bonbon-producing facility was located in the same building as the bakery. In 1940 Emil Richterich first came up with the mixture of thirteen herbs that brought the company international fame and is still the recipe used today.

For the company’s founder, who came from a very modest background and ventured to take the step from baker to factory owner in the 1930s, a time of great economic and social difficulties, it was always clear that being a successful entrepreneur brought with it social and cultural responsibilities. In the 1940s he began to acquire contemporary art. He began by purchasing paintings, prints, and sculptures by artists from his immediate environment, the Laufental—artists with whom he soon developed life-long friendships. These included, among others, Jacques Düblin, Albert Schilling, and especially August Cueni, whom he supported throughout his life. In the 1950s and 1960s he expanded this collection of local and regional art with single works by important Swiss painters of the twentieth century such as Cuno Amiet, Hans Berger, Wilhelm Gimmi, Max Gubler, Giovanni Giacometti, and René Auberjonois. These works were exhibited in the home of Emil and Rosa Richterich-Beck at Baselstrasse 31 and in the adjacent premises of the company.

In 1967 Emil Richterich and his two sons, Hans Peter Richterich and Alfred Richterich, founded Ricola AG. In memory of their father, who died in 1973, Hans Peter Richterich (who took over operational management of Ricola AG), Alfred Richterich and Rosa Richterich-Beck established a foundation to continue Emil Richterich’s cultural, social, and charitable work. In 1975, the year the foundation was created, the sons decided, at the suggestion of Alfred Richterich, who had consulted his father on art in his later years, to develop a corporate collection of contemporary Swiss art. This became the Ricola Collection.

In the late 1970s Alfred Richterich invited several artists and architects—including, at the recommendation of the art dealer Diego Stampa, the young Basel-based architect Jacques Herzog—to Laufen to reflect on urban planning improvements. This first contact represented not only the beginning of a friendship with the architect, who at the time was unknown, but also the point of departure for a series of commissions for the Basel architects Herzog & de Meuron, who are now active internationally. The architects began in 1979–80 by planning and carrying out the renovations of Alfred Richterich’s home in Laufen. Then in 1983 they worked closely with Alfred Richterich and his brother, Hans Peter Richterich, on the renovations for the present administration building, which had been occupied in 1951 and was for many years also used for production. Then in 1985–86 they renovated the bakery in Laufen’s old town; in 1989–91 they designed the shell of the new warehouse next to the factory in Laufen; in 1989–91 they added a story to the factory, converted a stable as an addition, and built a roof over part of the courtyard; in 1992–93 they designed the packing and distribution building for Ricola Europe in Mulhouse-Brunstatt, in 1998–99 a marketing building in the garden at the company headquarters in Laufen and 2014 the Ricola Kräuterzentrum.

Ricola AG, under the leadership of CEO Thomas Meier and Felix Richterich (Chairman of the Board of Directors), has close to 500 employees worldwide and exports herb drops to around fifty countries in Europe, Asia, and North America. The collecting of contemporary art from Switzerland by Ricola Holding AG and the presentation of these works in the buildings of the group, is an important component of its corporate culture and an expression of the integral cultural ideas of the company’s owners. These ideas are further expressed by continuing the cultural, social, and charitable activities of the company’s founders through the Emil and Rosa Richterich-Beck Foundation, and also the owner’s commitment to nonprofit and cultural projects in Switzerland through private funds and foundations, such as the Alfred Richterich Foundation.

Roman Kurzmeyer