Roswitha Haftmann was born on 11 January 1924 in St. Gallen (Switzerland). After attending the Cantonal School in St. Gallen, in 1944 she graduated from the Eidgenössisch Technische Hochschule Zürich with a teaching diploma in sports. In 1948 she also qualified to teach German, French and English. Between 1949 and 1955 she combined teaching and learning, earning her living in the USA in a variety of posts; in 1949 she met her French husband-to-be, Claude Violett, whom she married in 1950. She worked as a model for American newspapers and agencies until 1955.
On her return to Switzerland, between 1956 and 1959 she had a number of teaching posts in Zurich. Then began her lifelong involvement in art: Director of the Galerie Internationale d’Art Contemporain, Paris (1960); on the staff of the Galerie Krugier, Geneva (from 1963); Director of the Galerie Marlborough, Zurich (1971); in 1973 she opened her own Galerie Modern Art. Here she showed artists whom she knew and/or liked, such as Hans Arp, Max Ernst, Hans Hartung, Oskar Kokoschka and Georges Mathieu.
In 1960 Roswitha Haftmann’s first marriage came to an end; in 1967 she married Dr Werner Haftmann (newly appointed Director of the Nationalgalerie) and moved with him to Berlin. Many of her closest contacts with artists date from this period. Three years later the couple separated. At times prone to self-doubt, Roswitha Haftmann now devoted herself to her work as a gallerist. Having relished and enjoyed what this world has to offer, on 29 January 1998 Roswitha Haftmann took her own life in Zurich.

Fulfilling a wish of the Board of the Roswitha Haftmann-Stiftung, the art critic and historian Ludmila Vachtova has published a biography recalling the unusual life of Roswitha Haftmann. Ludmila Vachtova (born 1933) studied and completed her PhD in Prague. Since 1973 her work has appeared in the Neue Zürcher Zeitung, the Tages-Anzeiger and the Weltwoche (amongst others) and she has published in her own right on Frantisek Kupka, Varlin and Hanny Fries.
The book ’Roswitha Haftmann - Leben und Vermächtnis’ (ed. by Roswitha Haftmann-Stiftung Zürich) was published in 2000 by Scheidegger & Spiess AG, Zurich and Frankfurt/M. and draws exclusively on materials from the Estate of the Roswitha Haftmann-Stiftung. It is on sale in the museum shop of the Kunsthauses Zürich or from booksellers’ at CHF 38.-. ISBN 3 85881129 7