When the municipal architect Gustav Gull converted the former orphanage on Bahnhofquai into the town hall at the beginning of the 20th century, he saved space by transforming the former cellar into the entrance hall.
In order to counteract the gloomy lighting conditions, he commissioned the artist Augusto Giacometti from Bregaglia to design the room.
From 1923, he worked with warm colours on the ornaments and scenic pictures for two years and created a unique, vibrant space which is affectionately known as the "Blüemlihalle" [flower hall] by the locals because of its many flower-like patterns.
Since its restoration in 2000, the work is resplendent with a fresh shine once again and can be admired daily from 9 to 11 a.m.
When Alberto Giacometti’s sculpture L’Homme qui marche I (Walking Man I) became the most expensive work of art ever sold at auction this week, I couldn’t help thinking of Orson Welles’s famous speech in Carol Reed’s film The Third Man.
“In Italy for 30 years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder, and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance,” says Welles, playing the villain Harry Lime.
“In Switzerland, they had brotherly love, they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce?
The cuckoo clock.” Clearly, Welles’s character had forgotten about Giacometti, who was born in an inaccessible valley in the Swiss Alps in 1901.
When L’Homme qui marche I, estimated at £12 million to £18 million, went under the hammer for more than £65 million at Sotheby’s in London on Wednesday evening, the Swiss sculptor, who spent most of his life working in a filthy, troglodytic studio in Paris, trumped every artist who had ever lived.
All of a sudden, the Swiss can boast not only the cuckoo clock, but also a modern-day master to rival the titans of the Renaissance.
Giacometti had even seen off Picasso, whose Rose Period painting Garcon à la Pipe (Boy with a Pipe) previously held the record for the most expensive painting.
Comparisons between different artists are vexed and horribly subjective.