The house in which Heinz Wehrli and Elsa Hotz live is not only a living space, but also an exhibition area – both inside and outside. Among others, works of art by Tinguely, Niki de Saint Phalle, Mario Merz and François Morellet are on display here, but also objets d’art of a somewhat different kind – or rather of a very specific Ferrari kind: a 330 GTC, a Daytona, an SA Aperta, an F12 TDF, a LaFerrari, a 488 Pista and an F40. And a carefully curated library. A very personal museum and an impressive environment. For Heinz and Elsa, prestige plays no role at all, because their art treasures represent the friendly relationships they have with their fellow human beings. They mainly collect works by artists who were or are a part of their lives. Most of them they also know personally. This natural closeness to art and artists is something they both learned from their parents growing up: when he was only 14, Heinz converted the attic to decorate the walls with paintings by Dutch and French painters from the nineteenth century, which his father collected. And Elsa also grew up with a father who shaped and influenced her accordingly: the architect and art collector often hosted artists at his home. He was especially close to Tinguely. This is why the latter had his own room in the family home to stay in whenever he came to visit from Paris – and he enjoyed Elsa’s mother’s cooking. Elsa, by the way, is no less talented than her mother when it comes to cooking: her French apple pie is to die for. But other artists also came and went at the Hotz residence. The distinguished group often met at events and small festivities. Elsa, and later her husband, Heinz, always lent a helping hand and provided support whenever required – whether as service staff, in the kitchen or in the garden.
LEAVING THE NEST
In addition to this early contact with the art scene, Elsa also nurtured her own creative streak. For a long time, she thought of going to arts college or training as an architect, which would have seen her follow in her father’s footsteps, until she finally discovered her interest in biology and embarked on a career in medicine. But as a newly qualified senior physician, her passion for art was by no means diminished: spending her first four months’ wages, she immediately and proudly bought a sculpture by Niki de Saint Phalle. Heinz also went his own way, in that – unlike his parents – he developed an interest in modern, especially constructivist art. At an exhibition of the Museum of Design, which is still famously remembered today, he bought a work of art by Anton Stankowski, the founder of Swiss commercial art. The first art he owned cost him just 50 Swiss francs. But he did not have enough money to have the picture framed. Heinz therefore constructed a frame himself on the spot – with dimensions that were too tight and signs of readjustment. And that is exactly how it still hangs in their home today.