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the New Swiss Guard

IT WILL COME AS REASSURANCE that Switzerland, the national cliché of clockwork orderliness, is awhir with all the messy passions that make the rest of us tick. So it turns out from the recent affair at the Kunsthaus Zürich, one of two prominent Swiss institutions facing a changeover in directors, where there was sufficient intrigue, spite, and stifled ambition to pack a tawdry novel—minus, unfortunately, the sex.

In the spring of ’99, the announced retirement of Felix Baumann, the twenty-three-year director of the Kunsthaus, spurred an executive search committee into sputtering action. The president of the board, Thomas Bechtler, hunkered down with a small group of board members that included artist Peter Fischli, the city’s mayor, a local collector, and Jacqueline Burckhardt, a publisher of the art journal Parkett, whose coequal Bice Curiger happens to be an adjunct curator at the Kunsthaus

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