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Kunsthaus Zürich records large increase in visitor numbers with some 315,000 admissions
Cindy Sherman, Untitled #267, 1992. Courtesy the artist and Metro Pictures© Cindy Sherman.

ZURICH.- The Kunsthaus Zürich enjoyed a successful year in 2013, with visitor numbers up by more than 25% to 315,000. 2014 begins with fascinating combinations and big names. ‘From Matisse to Der Blaue Reiter’ looks at Expressionism in Germany and France. Cindy Sherman is honoured with a retrospective. A dialogue with Jenny Saville’s figure paintings lends new topicality to the works of Egon Schiele. There are classic solo exhibitions devoted to Antoine Bourdelle and Alberto Giacometti, while earlier Swiss artists are challenged by contemporary positions: Henry Fuseli meets Javier Téllez while Ferdinand Hodler comes face to face with Jean-Frédéric Schnyder.

As The Kunsthaus Zürich enjoyed a successful year in 2013, with some 315,000 admissions – up by a quarter on the 2012 figure of 248,600. The annual accounts are expected to show a profit, thanks in particular to the ‘Chagall’ exhibition (123,000 visitors) and the graphic works of Edvard Munch, and to ‘Félix Vallotton. Precious Moments’. The latter presentation, a combination of works from the Kunsthaus collection and loans from private collectors, ensured that admissions to the collection remained high, at 145,000. Membership of the Zürcher Kunstgesellschaft was virtually unchanged at 21,170, compared with 21,198 in 2012. Assuming a modest increase in visitor numbers, this year is expected to produce a balanced result. For the years ahead, Christoph Becker and his team of curators are working on projects including Edouard Manet, performance art and Joan Miró. The 2014 programme extends from contemporary art back to the 18th century.

‘Expressionism’ is generally viewed as a German movement, but this exhibition sets the record straight, highlighting that it was not a national phenomenon but rather one shaped by the spirit of cosmopolitanism and productive exchange. German artists engaged with Seurat, Signac and the Post-Impressionists, who were then followed by Gauguin, Cézanne and Matisse. The response by the artists of ‘Die Brücke’ and ‘Der Blaue Reiter’ to French Neo-Impressionism and the ‘Fauves’ was a veritable riot of colour. Collectors in Germany also eagerly acquired and exhibited French art, as did museum directors with an eye to the future. The exhibition is being organized in association with the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Montréal. The presentation at the Kunsthaus will be its only appearance in Europe.

28 February – 25 May 2014

With the Bruno Giacometti bequest of 2012 to the Kunsthaus Zürich came a group of works covering the career of Alberto Giacometti (1901–1966) from the early years in Stampa to his Paris period. It includes copies of works by Dürer, Mantegna, Holbein and Hodler made by a precocious Giacometti between the ages of 12 and 15. They were followed in the 1920s by studies of Romanesque and Egyptian sculptures, while in the 1930s he began to engage with the work of Matisse, Cézanne and Rodin, though producing creations that were very much his own. The selection also contains important images of family members and various self-portraits, as well as landscapes from around Stampa and Maloja, studio views, and figure studies from the 1950s and 1960s.

ANTOINE BOURDELLE. SAPPHO. 21 March – 6 July 2014
Along with Rodin and Maillol, Antoine Bourdelle (1861–1929) formed the triumvirate of early modern French sculptors. The Kunsthaus holds three of his works, the most important of which is the large-format depiction of Sappho, the most celebrated female poet of Antiquity. Freshly restored, the work can now resume its rightful place in the important group of sculptures by French artists and artists living in France for which the Kunsthaus is justly admired. The presentation introduces the restored work and sets it in its context.

CINDY SHERMAN – UNTITLED HORRORS. 6 June – 14 September 2014
Cindy Sherman (b. 1954) has enjoyed a long career. Now, she receives her first solo exhibition in Zurich. At the heart of the retrospective ‘Cindy Sherman – Untitled Horrors’ is the grotesque, the gruesomely shocking in her work, from the earliest days through to most recent times. Cindy Sherman invariably labels her photos ‘Untitled’, leaving it to viewers to read them in their own way, inviting them to develop the stories behind them as they see fit and come up with their own titles. She created her first works at home, using an external shutter release. Then as now, she was dramatizing different (gender) roles and constantly changing identities. These early works from the 1970s are receiving their first comprehensive showing, in association with the Astrup Fearnley Museet, Oslo, and the Moderna Museet, Stockholm.

20 June – 12 October 2014

The titanic figure of Prometheus has resonated throughout literature, painting and music since European Romanticism. For Goethe and Fuseli, the ancient myth of the theft of fire became the quintessential embodiment of humanity’s striving for self-determination. That universal message lives on to this day in the Olympic flame. Yet the blessing was also a curse; and this is the subject of the film installation by Venezuelan artist Javier Téllez in which the camera slowly circles around two sculptures: the nude male Prometheus by the National Socialist Arno Breker and the ‘degenerate’ hermaphrodite figure by the ‘outsider’ artist Karl Genzel. The exhibition confronts paintings and drawings by Henry Fuseli from the Kunsthaus collection with this central work of contemporary art.

JAVIER TÉLLEZ. 5 September – 30 November 2014
Javier Téllez was born in 1969 in Venezuela and now lives in New York and Berlin. He has established his reputation through involvement in leading international group exhibitions such as documenta 13. The exhibition is his first solo show at a major institution in Switzerland. In his videos and video installations, Téllez focuses on people who inhabit the margins of society. He addresses issues of normality and otherness, often working with untrained actors such as patients from psychiatric clinics. In his work, he is concerned at once with questioning the concept of the ‘stranger’ or ‘other’ and with reflecting on the medium of film and its place in art and film history. In association with S.M.A.K. in Ghent.

12 September 2014 – 26 April 2015

This exhibition, conceived and realized by the artist Peter Fischli, takes as its starting point the extensive holdings of over 90 paintings and several hundred drawings by Ferdinand Hodler at the Kunsthaus. Jean-Frédéric Schnyder’s image cycles ‘Berner Veduten’ (‘Bernese Views’, 1982–1983) and ‘Am Thunersee’ (‘On Lake Thun’, 1995) are linked to Hodler conceptually. The ‘Bernese Views’ were the first venture by Schnyder (b. 1945) into a tradition of plein air painting profoundly influenced by Hodler. Yet his approach, which lives from the meticulous exploration of the possibilities of extended image series, sets him apart from Switzerland’s most celebrated painter of the 19th century. Beyond iconography and categorizations, the exhibition allows us to share the artists’ perspectives on the translation of the world into painting.

EGON SCHIELE – JENNY SAVILLE. 10 October 2014 – 18 January 2015
The work of Egon Schiele (1890–1918) confronts paintings and drawings by British artist Jenny Saville (b. 1970). This is a meeting between two young stars, separated by many years and divergent artistic methods, who consistently distil in their work a strong sense of the body as locus of lived experience. Schiele’s poses, deliberately low angles and painterly style imbue his mostly small-scale self-portraits with a concentrated strength that is every bit as intense as that of Saville’s gigantic formats. Indeed, it is this stark difference in size that constitutes the visual challenge of presenting two positions in painting that, for all their apparent expressionism, are calculated down to the smallest brushstroke.

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