Marika Bauer Wachtmeister ’68


originally published May 12, 2011

Marika Bauer Wachtmeister ’68 fell in love with New York City’s arts and culture scene at a young age, and though she left the city for her native Sweden, she’s remained immersed in art. Marika is the founder and senior director of Wanås, a non-profit foundation that helps international artists create new artwork on an estate in southern Sweden.

“The most important aspect of Wanås, globally, is the foundation’s support for new projects,” Marika said. That support enabled Maya Lin, the artist who created the Vietnam Memorial in Washington D.C., to create Eleven Minute Line, a 1,500 foot long drawing made of earth, on the foundation’s property in 2004.

Wanås can support such large work because it’s located on an estate that holds the foundation’s sculpture park, a medieval castle and an organic dairy farm. Marika’s husband, Carl-Gustaf Wachtmeister, inherited the Wanås estate in 1973. In 1985, the couple and their three sons moved to the estate. The park surrounding the castle had been open to the public since 1900 and Marika felt it was the perfect location to host installations of contemporary art.

Marika first invited artists to create work at Wanås in 1987, but it wasn’t until 1995 that she decided to start the Wanås foundation. She wanted to ensure that the exhibitions by international artists would continue and thrive.

“With a board and a foundation, it became easier to raise money for the non-profit operation, including an ambitious educational program, the publishing of books and organizing of seminars,” Marika said.

Much of the work that artists produce with Wanås is large and site-specific, and becomes part of the foundation’s permanent collection. The sculpture park at Wanås hosts 50 permanent works by internationally renowned artists and those whose careers are only beginning.

“The foundation’s focus on young and emerging artists, as well as allowing artists to create new work for every exhibition, is very unique in Sweden,” Marika said.

So is the foundation’s motto: “The artist is always right.” Marika says this approach allows each artist to fully realize his or her vision.

Marika hopes that Wanås will continue to grow. “It is of great importance that the foundation stays very flexible in its organization, in order to change according to the new art expressions,” she said. “I also think the Wanås foundation should do things better, not bigger, during the next decade,” she added.

For more information about the Wanås foundation, please visit www.wanas.se.

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