Mai 36 founder Victor Gisler
on 30 years in the art world

photo of Lawrence Weiner and Victor Gisler, Mai 36

Victor Gisler, right, and Lawrence Weiner

30 Years Mai 36 Galerie – As Long As It Lasts

I became a gallerist in 1988 when I stepped beyond being interested in looking at and enjoying the art that I saw in museums and started showing, telling and selling what I liked in contemporary art.

photo of Victor at the Art Cologne Fair in the early 90s

Victor at Art Cologne in the early 90s

Since opening Mai 36 Galerie at Maihofstrasse 36 in Lucerne in February 1988, my goal has always been to exhibit art that I care about deeply, that is new to Switzerland, relevant for the time we live in, and global in its dialogue. I have remained committed to the art I love over all these years and am proud to still be working with a large group of artists today, whom I have already exhibited in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Text-based art and works that address important social, political or cultural issues are probably the categories of art that I love, besides my sincere interest and enthusiasm for photography. Starting a contemporary gallery in the heart of Switzerland - as Lucerne is known as - was not easy at the time, with Basel, Berne and later Zürich being the epicenters of contemporary art in the country.

We went on to establish the gallery in the mid-1990s in Zürich and ever since, through the support of the local and international art community and through participation in international art fairs, have seen a constant growth.

Over the course of three decades, the art world has changed dramatically. Everything has drastically increased in speed. Nowadays everyone knows everyone - and everyone can see everything immediately - no matter where, no matter when. But I still believe it’s crucial to experience art in person. There’s no better way to understand the artists thinking and the ideas or the beauty of what they are doing than by visiting galleries and institutional shows.


1/5 Les Levine is the first ever exhibition at Mai 36

2/5 Lawrence Weiner in 1994 at the first Zürich space

3/5 Robert Mapplethorpe in the new “Showroom” in 2015

4/5 Matt Mullican in the main Zürich space in 2017

5/5 Zang Kunkun opens the newly-expanded upstairs space in 2018


I feel lucky and honoured to be able to offer a place and structure:

- to artists where they can show what they do

- to collectors where they can purchase what they enjoy

- to curators where they can discuss

- to critics where they can study

- and to all other art professionals and enthusiasts where they can experience what they love the most: art to be seen for the very first time in a gallery exhibition.


photo of Victor and artist Rémy Zaugg

Victor and Rémy Zaugg at the gallery


I’m thankful to the artists, who are the heart and mind of the gallery, without whom there would only exist an empty space. I thank you for your courage, trust and belief in us and for all the good times we have together. I’m grateful to the collectors with whom we work and salute you for your confidence and companionship. Mai 36 Galerie would never have lasted three decades without the engagement and contributions of all who have worked with me. I have had the great pleasure and fortune to employ the best of the best and I am very thankful for their hard work, their great spirit, talent and dedication.

–Victor Gisler

see what’s on at the gallery right now here


photo of artist Thomas Ruff at the gallery

Thomas Ruff gives a talk during his recent exhibition at the gallery

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