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Kunsthaus Zürich presents first-ever joint exhibition of restored sculptures by Aristide Maillol and Auguste Rodin
Aristide Maillol, Monument à Cézanne, 1907. Bronze, 135 x 227 x 74 cm. Kunsthaus Zürich, donation of Werner et Nelly Bär© 2012 ProLitteris, Zurich.
ZURICH.- From 17 April to 16 December 2012 the Kunsthaus Zürich will be exhibiting six bronze sculptures and a terracotta figure by Aristide Maillol which have been restored over the last twelve months. Alongside Auguste Rodin, Maillol is considered the most important French sculptor of the early modern era. Now, for the first time, the works of the two artists are to be exhibited together in a group of around a dozen pieces from the Kunsthaus collection.

The Kunsthaus Zürich holds seven works by Aristide Maillol (1861-1944) – together with Auguste Rodin one of the leading bronze sculptors of the transition from the 19th century to the modern era – covering almost all periods of his career. Maillol’s work is characterized by rounded forms, compact surfaces and classical poses informed by a sensually Mediterranean vision of woman.

Among the sculptures in the Kunsthaus collection two in particular stand out: the unorthodox ‘Monument à Cézanne’ (1907), donated by Werner and Nelly Bär, and the life-sized ‘Vénus au collier,’ created between 1918 and 1929 and now one of the artist’s best-known works. With its combination of grace and voluptuousness, the standing figure of a woman bears witness to an artist at the height of his powers. One of few examples from the period, this valuable bronze was acquired direct from its creator as far back as 1931 and kept in the open air for a long time, causing substantial weathering of its surface. It has now undergone a thorough cleaning and restoration similar to the work carried out some years ago on Rodin’s ‘Gates of Hell.’ Following careful and intricate retouching of the surface, beautiful Venus can once again take her rightful place among the bronzes of Maillol and Rodin and be exhibited as part of the collection for the first time in decades.


Five other works affected by dust, dirt and minor damage over the years have been restored. Details of the multi-stage process can be found on and in a special brochure. The Kunsthaus’s entire collection of Rodin sculptures has already been restored over recent years, thanks to the ongoing support of the BNP Paribas Suisse Foundation. Now, collection curator Philippe Büttner has brought these together with the Maillols to create a presentation of around a dozen works that impressively demonstrates the power of French sculpture from the Impressionist period to the early modern era. The Maillol holdings will be on show in their entirety, together with the essential elements of the Rodin collection, until 16 December. The opening of the Kunsthaus extension in 2017 will create space for a major, long-term presentation with French art, amid contemporary works, providing an attractive focal point.

The restoration was supported by the BNP Paribas Suisse Foundation. As a long-standing and valued patron of museums, the BNP Paribas Suisse Foundation is committed to preserving their artistic treasures and making them accessible to the public at large. As part of its ‘BNP Paribas pour L’Art’ programme, the Foundation therefore supports publications on museum collections as well as the restoration of their masterpieces.

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