Hauser & Wirth Menorca is an art centre in the natural environment of Illa del Rei (Isla del Rey), accessible by ferry from Moll de Llevant 61 in Mahón. It comprises an exhibition programme, a learning programme and dedicated space, an impressive outdoor sculpture trail with works by Louise Bourgeois and Joan Miró among others, and the restaurant Cantina.
As much a multifaceted, highly immersive art destination as it is a commercial gallery, the latest outpost of international blue-chip dealer Hauser & Wirth smartly reimagines the outbuilding of an 18th-century naval hospital on the largely abandoned Isla del Rey, just off the coast of the Balearic island of Menorca.
Hauser & Wirth tapped Argentine-born, Paris-based architect Luis Laplace to sensitively and sustainably carve eight open, airy white-washed gallery spaces—as well as an education lab, a restaurant, and a shop—out of the original stone-walled, tile-roofed maritime buildings. Now, they open onto wild-feeling Mediterranean perennial gardens by celebrated Dutch landscape designer Piet Oudolf along with an outdoor sculpture trail featuring works by such 20th-century greats as Louise Bourgeois and Joan Miró.
Hauser & Wirth was founded in 1992 in Zurich by Iwan Wirth, Manuela Wirth, and Ursula Hauser, who were joined in 2000 by co-president Marc Payot. In 2020, Ewan Venters was appointed as the first CEO of Hauser & Wirth.
The gallery represents over 80 artists and artists’ estates, including Mark Bradford, Roni Horn, Paul McCarthy, George Conda Pipilotti Rist, Lorna Simpson, Avery Singer, and Rashid Johnson, and is responsible for artist estates and foundations including the Estate of Philip Guston, Louise Bourgeois, and the Jack Whitten Estate.
Illa del Rei is home a decommissioned hospital founded by the English navy in 1711. The historical building forms a u-shape, facing southeast and surrounding a square and a chapel. Alongside the hospital are a group of outbuildings created for support functions. The remains of a Paleochristian basilica dating from the sixth century AD are located close to the hospital and was discovered in 1888.
After the hospital fell in disuse, the site was abandoned and the buildings deteriorated. The Foundation Hospital de l’Illa del Rei was established in 2005 to protect and conserve the historical site. Since then, hundreds of international volunteers have worked with that end, raising funds and providing materials and a dedicated workforce on a weekly basis.
‘A group of dedicated volunteers have spearheaded the restoration of its 18th-century hospital buildings for over 15 years,’ explains Manuela Wirth. ‘We are deeply inspired by their efforts to protect the environment and heritage, and proud to join them as custodians of the island.’
When the gallery was founded in 1992, it was initially operated from Iwan Wirth’s Zurich apartment. The first permanent venue opened in the former Löwenbräu building that became Hauser & Wirth Zürich in 1996, followed by a London branch in an Edward Lutyens-designed former bank on Piccadilly in 2003. In 2013, the gallery opened a space at the former Roxy disco and skating rink in New York. In 2014 the gallery renovated Durslade Farm, a collection of farm buildings in rural Somerset, to create Hauser & Wirth Somerset. The gallery also restored a 100,000 sq. ft. former flour mill, the Globe Mills complex, in downtown Los Angeles in 2016. In 2018, Hauser & Wirth Los Angeles was awarded the Los Angeles Conservancy’s Chair’s Award.
In spring 2020, Hauser & Wirth opened its first purpose-built gallery space at 542 West 22nd Street in New York’s West Chelsea art district, designed by Selldorf Architects. In July 2021, the gallery opened an art center on Isla del Rey in Menorca after a conservation project overseen by Luis Laplace, repurposing existing historic buildings on the island. The gallery was awarded the Best Social Responsibility Initiative by the Government of the Balearic Islands in September 2021, listed as one of the ‘2022 Works of Wonder’ by the international editors of Architectural Digest and named ‘Best Art Destination’ in the Wallpaper* Design Awards 2022. In 2021 Hauser & Wirth acquired the Thomas Goode building at 19 South Audley Street in Mayfair to create a new flagship gallery in London joining its Savile Row space.
In June 2022 the gallery announced the opening of a new space in Paris. Paris-based architect Luis Laplace was appointed to oversee renovations of the location, a 19th-century hôtel particulier.
The inaugural exhibition it Hauser & Wirth Menorca is by Los Angeles-based artist Mark Bradford. Continuing his career-long exploration of the systems that oppress marginalized populations, ‘Masses and Movements’ features work rich in both formal and allegorical complexity, reasserting the importance of abstraction to understand the world we live in and confirming his place among the most important artists working today. Integral to the exhibition is a new social engagement project that Bradford is collaborating on to bring arts education to immigrant communities and a display that highlights the global immigration crisis.
‘Early in our discussions with Mark Bradford,’ explains Iwan Wirth, ‘it was key to him that a big part of the exhibition would be dedicated to his social practice and he was looking for ways to define that here, where we have no previous history.’ Bradford initiated a new social engagement project collaborating with PILA Global to bring arts education to immigrant communities and a display that highlights the global immigration crisis. The artist led an art education residency with students from l’Escola d’Art de Menorca, who created site-specific wall paintings of maps. The educational program running from August to October provides regular activities engaging children, families, and schools in collaborative and hands-on activities.
‘Menorca is rich in history, heritage and culture, and this new art center can help place the island on the contemporary art world map,’ says Mar Rescalvo Pons, director of Hauser & Wirth Menorca. ‘We have been overwhelmed by the enthusiasm of the local community, and are collaborating with several local initiatives to foster connections.’
Menorca is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and, in the interest of protecting the unique natural environment of its location, we have partnered with the Menorca Preservation Fund. We support the NGO’s strategic lines of action, which consist in raising funds and distributing them to local projects that preserve the natural environment of Menorca.
Environmental sustainability measures of the art center include rain-water collection protocols, creation of a water plant to reuse water for ground irrigation, reverse osmosis water treatment, and energy efficient climate control for the buildings. As part of our gallery-wide environmental sustainability plan to reduce emissions by 50% before 2030, carbon budgets are developed for each exhibition to improve transparency.
Piet Oudolf’s garden at Hauser & Wirth Menorca runs alongside the gallery buildings and is divided into two main borders. In the midst of Illa del Rei’s wildlife, the acclaimed landscape designer has applied his perennial planting scheme to a Mediterranean context. ‘When I first visited Menorca, I was inspired by how periods of flowering spread throughout the year, which makes the garden interesting at all seasons,’ explains Piet Oudolf. ‘I am most interested in the structure of plants, and used perennials adapted to the climate to create a garden rich in shape and textures.’
Oudolf uses a matrix of graceful low growing grasses, from which a great variety of flowers, euphorbias and bright shrubs emerge. Working in collaboration with Spanish designer Álvaro de la Rosa, Oudolf has created a sustainable garden that enhances the ever-changing experience of the Mediterranean landscape.
Cantina is the restaurant at Hauser & Wirth Menorca, with a focus on sharing, sustainability and local produce. The gallery shop is found in the same building, presenting art publications and Menorcan crafts.
The restaurant is run by local vineyard and restaurant Binifadet. Its founder, Carlos Anglés, started producing wine for his friends and family in 1979, and in 2004 the cellar opened to the public. Binifadet is run by his son Luis Anglés and Patricia Menéndez, who share their passion for wine making and agricultural production on Menorca. ‘The concept of Cantina is that of a ‘sea bistro’. Mediterranean and fresh cuisine, with many references to Menorcan recipes and—most importantly—based on local produce,’ says Luis Anglés.
Hauser & Wirth’s publishing activity extends back to 1992 and consists of monographs, artists’ books, historic exhibition catalogues, collections of artists’ writings and catalogues raisonnés. These include ‘Eva Hesse Diaries’, ‘Louise Bourgeois & Pablo Picasso: Anatomies of Desire’, and the re-release of the first Marcel Duchamp monograph and catalogue raisonné in 2021.In June 2019, Hauser & Wirth Publishers opened a stand-alone headquarters and bookshop in the historic center of Zurich, Switzerland. The Zurich headquarters occupies the former home of the Oprecht & Helbling bookshop and the Europa Verlag publishing house.In 2019, the Hauser & Wirth Publishers’ book ‘Dubuffet and the City: People, Place, and Urban Space’ by Sophie Berrebi received the Richard Schlagman Art Book Awards for art history and best book design. ‘Alexander Calder: From the Stony River to the Sky’, designed by Atelier Dyakova, received the 2020 German Design Award. In 2021, ‘Marcel Duchamp’ was named one of the best art books of the year by the New York Times, ARTnews, and Wallpaper.
Hauser & Wirth was founded in 1992 in Zurich by Iwan Wirth, Manuela Wirth and Ursula Hauser, who were joined in 2000 by Partner and President Marc Payot and CEO Ewan Venters in 2020.
Occupying a former farmstead in Bruton, Hauser & Wirth Somerset is home to a vibrant program of art exhibitions, events, learning activities and artists’ residencies, which connect with the local community and landscape.
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