Sylvielin's Blog

Parkett Then and Now, an Interview with Dieter von Graffenried, Publisher

Posted in about Art, Interviews (uncategorized) by sylvielin on January 15, 2014

With a PhD in economics, Dieter von Graffenried founded Parkett magazine in 1984 in Zurich, and has been its publisher ever since. Always deeply involved in Parkett’s projects with artists, he has also been co-Chairman of the Swiss Institute in New York, among other roles. As one of the very first bilingual art magazines to have attempted to bridge the art worlds of Europe and in America and with an in-depth approach in close collaboration with top international artists, Parkett now stands as an essential archive of contemporary art and, with the commissioned works (‘editions’), a musée-appartement that tours museums and institutions worldwide.

〔Extract from the original text〕

The Concept & Founding Members

Sylvie Lin: What was the motivation for creating Parkett (launched in 1984 in Zurich)? Why did you adopt an artist-oriented approach, taking artists and their works as a focus? [1]

Dieter von Graffenried:In greater Europe at the time, we felt there was a lack of quality and of content-driven writing about art and artists. What was plentiful were reviews in daily newspapers, weeklies and monthly magazines, but not in-depth texts. We had very short reviews on exhibitions but there was no real reflection of an artist and their overall work.

Besides, whereas now the contemporary art world is so enormously large and decentralized, at that time, there was a lack of bridge-building—mainly between Europe and North America. So we decided to publish bilingually (German and English) and to open an office in New York. There was no magazine with the same idea language-wise, no magazine that adopted a language that is spoken more globally. You had French, German, Italian and English magazines, but they were all embedded in the national background.

SL: Who are the founding members of Parkett? Can you tell us about their respective backgrounds?

DG:The founding team is composed of five people from different backgrounds. I worked with films at the time. Regarding art, I grew up in Basel, a small but very exciting city on the borders of France, Germany and Switzerland. It has one of the oldest public museum collections in the world. I saw my first performance of Joseph Beuys when I was fifteen. Franz Meyer, the director of the museum in Basel, was the first museum director in Europe that built the first collection of Post-war American art in the late 1950s. There were people who did very visionary things.

Other founding members include Bice Curiger, a critic for a daily newspaper in Zurich., and Jacqueline Burckhardt, who studied conservation and art history. There was also Peter Blum, who worked in a gallery in Basel; now he runs his own gallery in New York. Walter Keller served as Assistant Professor and teacher in the European Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology Departments at the University of Zurich; after founding Parkett, he was involved in photography and art in the publication and museum fields, etc.

I think it holds true that if you want to do a project like this, it’s about a certain passion—a vision that the team members share.


[1] An introduction to the Parkett magazine and the Parkett exhibition in the Taipei Fine Arts Museum starting in May 2013, see Sylvie Lin, “More Than a Magazine — ‘Parkett ─220 Artists Editions & Collaborations Since 1984,’” Art Taipei Forum Media, 2013/06/20 Update,


(*First published on Randian-onlind,, Sep. 2, 2013.)


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