About the Foundation
Dr. Carlo Fleischmann (1892–1965) was a co-owner of Fleischmann & Co., a Swiss company principally trading in grain, and quite successful in the import and export of raw materials. In 1953, Dr. Fleischmann established a foundation in his name to provide financial support for art, culture, and education in Switzerland. As his nephew Kaspar M. Fleischmann notes, "Carlo was inspired to start the foundation because he wanted to give something back to the community; and because he was a man of the world – cultivated, inquisitive, and philanthropic – he chose to give money to the arts, culture, science, and education. He gave donations to many institutions, and as long as they performed well they could budget the same amount for the following year. In doing so, he took a lot of stress from organizations that operated 'at the limit' and yet also delivered great work and/or performances."
Since its founding, the Dr. Carlo Fleischmann Stiftung has supported numerous large and small projects. Up to 2006, these projects included annual support to Theater Neumarkt in Zurich, the donation of two polar bears to the Zurich Zoo, repeated grants to Museum Rietberg in Zurich for acquisitions, donations to schools, and a multitude of other, smaller projects. Dr. Fleischmann was actively engaged in the foundation and donation process until his death.
Kaspar M. Fleischmann, vice president of the foundation and representative of the family, is leveraging his expertise and pioneering spirit to strengthen the foundation. Fleischmann is a photography collector and the founder of Galerie zur Stockeregg in Zurich, which from the time of its founding in 1979 was one of the most important galleries for photography in Europe. Under his leadership, the DCFF shifted its focus in 2006 to support and advance the study of photography. It gifted a collection of rare photo collages by Herbert Bayer to Kunsthaus Zürich and transferred the foundation endowment to the University of Zurich in order to establish the Center for Studies in the Theory and History of Photography at the Institute of Art History. The foundation is now exclusively committed to promoting all aspects of photography. In 2007, the University of Zurich announced the vacant position of Chair for History of the Fine Arts with an additional focus on the History and Theory of Photography. Bettina Gockel, then a member of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, received the call to Zurich and took up the position in February of 2008. She continues to hold this position today and is also a board member of the foundation.
In 2015, Kaspar M. Fleischmann was awarded an honorary doctorate by the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences of the University of Zurich for his outstanding services to academic research and science in the field of theory and history of photography.
Research on the theory and history of photography is now established in the humanities and in cultural studies. This fact should not, however, lead us to disregard the need for dialogue between these cultures of expertise: in art history and visual studies, in literary studies and history, and in museums and collections. Interest in the history of photography has grown rapidly in the age of digital images, and many contemporaries have experienced the transition from analog to digital photography as a paradigm shift. Investigating the history of the photographic image enables us to understand this profound change.