Second Half of the 19th century
Dealers in frames, paints and other supplies for artists, as well as booksellers and printers were the first outlets for new and wealthy art collectors seeking to purchase works of art. This soon gives rise to the first real art shops, antique bookshops, galleries and antique shops.
A small group of around 20 committed antiquarians and art dealers meets in Lausanne to form the Association of Dealers in Antiques and Art (SADAA). The Association is founded with the aim of promoting the professional and economic objectives of dealers, to raise the profile of the profession and to protect against abuses.
1911 – 1960s
The statutes of the association are adopted and revised. Over the course of the years, the statutes and dispositions incorporate guidelines on: conditions of sale with obligation to provide guarantees, the court of arbitration and the appraiser's commission, the auction system, commission work, expertise and authentication.
1918 - 1945
World economic crises lead to several German art dealers moving to Switzerland and joining the ranks of the Association.
1946 – 1950s
The VSAK constitutes the professional organisation of the upper echelons of Swiss art, which all dealers wanted to join. The Association's firm supervision of the national art market is reflected in the strict criteria for the admission of new members. Membership of the Association is recognised internationally as a seal of quality.
The Association's first official fair, entitled Schweizerische Kunst- und Antiquitätenmesse (KAM), is held in Bern. The fair, which then moved to Basel and finally to Zurich, was organised every year in spring until 1995, the year of its last edition. Sie wird jedes Frühjahr abgehalten, bis 1995 ihre letzte Ausgabe stattfindet. With an average of 100-120 exhibitors each year, the event was a rare opportunity to see a wide range of quality art from all eras.
The deregulation and de-institutionalisation of the market, as well as increasing competition, gradually weakened the position of associations on the international market.
1960s – 1970s
Branches of Sotheby's (1967) and Christie's (1973) are founded in Switzerland. In contrast to these international companies, the auction houses Fischer (LU), Eberhard W. Kornfeld (BE) or Koller (ZH) had their roots in the traditional art dealing. This affinity forms the basis of the good relations that exist between the auction houses and Swiss art dealers despite the competition.
The Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property is adopted by UNESCO.
Economic transformations and globalisation have an increasingly profound impact on the art world. The art market becomes increasingly divided between the traditional market, formed by antique dealers, collectors and connoisseurs, and the contemporary market, dominated by investors and “trophy” hunters.
In 1995, the last edition of the KAM art fair is held, the organisation of which had become too costly in the context of economic changes. The association's original objectives, aimed at a political and social space, return to the forefront.
Switzerland adheres to the 1970 Unesco Convention and creates the Federal Act on the International Transfer of Cultural Property (CPTA).
The Law on the Transfer of Cultural Property enters into force.
Centenary of the birth of the Association.
2022 – today
The current challenges of the Association involve meeting contemporary political requirements, especially in the field of looted art and stolen antiquities. The Association acts as an interface between authorities, traders, and collectors. Additionally, the Association has set the ethical goal of making the art of various periods and cultures accessible to the general public.