Expressionism Switzerland

10 July 2021 – 16 January 2022 | Reinhart am Stadtgarten

Hermann Scherer 1893 – 1927
The Painter, around 1925
Private ownership

Media orientation

Thursday, 8 July 2021, at 11 o’clock or individual tour by arrangement through kommunikation@kmw.ch / telephone +41 52 267 51 77

Catalogue

The exhibition is supplemented by a scholarly catalogue published by the Hirmer-Verlag with contributions by Konrad Bitterli, Claudia Blank, Doris Fässler, Andrea Lutz, Cäsar Menz, Viola Radlach and David Schmidhauser. They are accompanied by over 200 colour illustrations of numerous works of art that have never been published before.

With over 120 works by more than 40 artists, the Kunst Museum Winterthur presents a major overview of Expressionism in Switzerland. The exhibition with works of art from all four parts of the country makes it possible to experience the pioneering movement of the 20th century fully and to rediscover artists who have received little attention up to now.

Expressionism is one of the most important and influential art movements in Switzerland in the 20th century. As in Germany and France, where bold new experiments were ventured with Expressionism, Fauvism, Cubism and Futurism, Swiss artists also embraced the new formal language at the beginning of the 20th century, which was characterised by a sometimes uninhibited use of colour. Their goal was no longer to depict the real world, but to question their own inner selves and express subjective worlds of feeling.

Confronted with the historical vicissitudes of the First World War, the national strike and the Russian Revolution, the traditional bourgeois norms seemed to have failed – a fresh, wild and radical art was the reaction to this. Organised in groups of artists and at the same time always acting as individuals, the artists experimented with vibrant colours and expressive forms. In addition to socially critical content and the search for identity in self-portraits, they also dealt with timeless themes such as still life and the landscape of their homeland.

Zurich, as a pulsating metropolis, attracted young artists, and Basel became a late but important centre of Expressionism in the 1920s with the ‘Red-Blue’ group. Here, the work of Ernst Ludwig Kirchner was particularly exemplary, for he had settled in Davos in 1918 and reoriented his work there under the impression of the Swiss mountains.

Well represented are the hitherto neglected regions of French-speaking Switzerland and Ticino. French-speaking Switzerland, traditionally oriented towards France and Paris, remained reserved in its reception of Fauvism, but had two important exponents of the expressive avant-garde in Hans Berger and Alice Bailly. Ticino, on the other hand, became a retreat not only for local artists who sought to escape the confines of the bourgeoisie, but also for international artists. Among them were Alexej von Jawlensky and Marianne von Werefkin as well as the members of the little-known artist group ‘Orsa Maggiore’.

The exhibition at the Kunst Museum Winterthur contains over 120 works from the various art regions on two floors. In addition to important oil paintings and sculptures, numerous drawings and prints will be on display.

Afterwards, the exhibition will be shown in a modified form in the Kunsthalle Vogelmann of the Städtische Museen in Heilbronn.