Disappearance of Léonard Gianadda

A key figure in the Swiss art scene has just passed away. Léonard Gianadda, who died on Sunday December 3, at the age of 88 following a cancer he had been fighting for a long time, had succeeded in placing the small town of Martigny in Valais in Switzerland on the map of cultural places not to be missed. not to be missed.

Yet the Gianadda Foundation building that he inaugurated in 1978 had a facade as welcoming as a bunker or a mausoleum. Leonardo made no secret of it, the building had been built in homage to his brother Pierre who died two years previously, but he was annoyed that people emphasized its blockhouse silhouette, preferring to speak of a “cathedral”. However, the engineer that he was, had made his fortune by constructing numerous buildings and public facilities in his beloved canton.

The interior cultivates the baroque style. In the basement a museum housing vintage automobiles, on the ground floor a museum of Gallo-Roman remains, an auditorium and all around the exhibition galleries. It is there that for 45 years, the Foundation exhibited the biggest names in ancient and modern art in events which each time welcomed tens of thousands of visitors. Over time, Léonard Gianadda managed to gain the trust of museums and private collectors, managing to have masterpieces loaned to various personalities.

It must be said that Leonard Gianadda had an outstanding personality. Liking to recall that his grandfather was an Italian immigrant who came to look for work in Switzerland, he impressed with his giant build and his seductive and boastful side. Or his entire character. A bit narcissistic, to our knowledge he is the only patron to have posted a 25-page biography online with dozens of intimate photographs.

The engineer not only built buildings, he also dotted the roundabouts of Martigny with monumental sculptures purchased with his own money. Praises have been pouring in since his death. Like the musician Renaud Capuçon who posted on his X account (formerly Twitter): “You made your Foundation [..] a Mecca of Culture with painting of course, but also the music that you loved”. He was indeed passionate about classical music.

France had long recognized him: a member (in the foreign associates section) of the Academy of Fine Arts, he was Commander in the Order of the Legion of Honor, Commander in the Order of Arts and Letters .

What will become of the Foundation? This is the question that the entire Swiss press is asking, without providing an answer, simply pointing out that he has two sons. An ecumenical ceremony will be celebrated in the Saint-Michel church in Martigny next Thursday. Relatives are invited not to send flowers but rather to make a donation to the Social Foundation that he created in 2006. The RIB appears in the death announcement. A sense of detail which was another of Léonard Gianadda’s many qualities.

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