Style | The Aesthete

Iwan Wirth talks personal style: Part Two

More tasteful revelations from top contemporary gallerist Iwan Wirth.

February 18 2011
Emma Crichton-Miller

My style icon is [the artist] Martin Creed. He manages to be both jaunty and elegant at the same time. The way he dresses, the way he carries himself, the way he expresses himself – from his wardrobe to his gait and his syntax – all are, for me, the epitome of personal style.

In my fridge you’ll always find smoked salmon, if we catch a lot in Iceland – anything over 10lb we now release back. And if I could, I would have Citterio salami, Coke Zero and Swiss Mostbröckli, especially Appenzeller Mostbröckli, a delicious hard dried beef from the Swiss mountains. This is why I need the bella macchina.

The best gift I’ve given recently is called Work No.88, a sheet of A4 paper crumpled into a ball, done in 1995 by Martin Creed. I just gave it to a friend as a birthday present.

And the best one I’ve received recently is a book, in an edition of 50, which included pages designed by each of the gallery artists and my family, which Manuela recently gave me for my 40th birthday. The idea was that I could give one to each person who contributed. Hauser & Wirth is a kind of family, so each contributor got a copy.

An unforgettable place I’ve travelled to in the past year is Iceland, where I was last summer and where I go regularly to fly-fish. It’s an amazing place to visit; several of our artists have been inspired by it, and Christoph Büchel now lives there. There is a vibrant cultural scene – music, literature, art. This last summer I went to visit Roni Horn’s Library of Water (Vatnasafn), produced in 2007 by Artangel, a long-term project conceived by Roni Horn for a former library in the coastal town of Stykkishólmur. The building stands on a promontory overlooking the ocean and the town, and houses three related collections – of water, words and weather reports – which reflect Roni Horn’s intimate involvement with the singular geography, geology, climate and culture of Iceland. It is a magical place.

An object I would never part with is a bed made by Jason Rhoades for us, which is in our flat in New York – its name is the 410 Bed with Franz West Prostate (1997). Jason died; the bed is part of our history and our friendship.

The last meal that truly impressed me was at the Hauser & Wirth dinner at the Frick Collection in New York, in 2009. We were permitted to have the dinner to celebrate the opening of our new gallery there; we invited friends, collectors and artists. The food was great; but the really wonderful experience was wandering around with a glass of champagne among all those magnificent paintings – Goya, Velázquez, Rembrandt, Rubens, Van Dyck.

The one artist whose work I would collect if I could... Rather than choose any one of my artists, or any artist, I would choose just one artwork: Mondrian’s last completed painting, Broadway Boogie Woogie. It’s just for me the ultimate modern masterpiece – it’s everything I like about art. My artists, too, seem to be making the best work towards the end of their lives.

If I had to limit my shopping to one neighbourhood in one city, I’d choose the fish market in Palma de Mallorca – it is an extraordinary place and you can get more than just fish.

The people I rely on for grooming and style are my mother-in-law, Ursula Hauser, who cuts my hair. And my pedicurist. He’s called Bastien Gonzalez and is the best in the world; he comes to London regularly to see clients.

The site that inspires me is, at the moment, the English landscape and its monuments – Stonehenge in particular, which I pass on my way to Somerset. I am obsessed with it: to me it is as interesting as the monuments of Egypt.

If I weren’t doing what I do, I would be a mountain guide in Switzerland, or a ghillie. I love the mountains; and walking and climbing is something I do with the children – I have three boys and a girl. We are very much an outdoor activity family.