Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Glam Rock from Switzerland

My earliest encounter with pop music was in the early 70s - practically short after dinosaurs quit roaming the earth. It was the heyday of Glam Rock, and bands like The Sweet, Slade, T-Rex, and Gary Glitter ruled. Hair was long, and clothes were tight at the wrong - or disturbingly right - places. Why I ramble about all this being in Switzerland?

byemyselftravels
Franz Gertsch: "Franz und Luciano"
(From the permanent collection of the Kunsthaus Zürich)

Because I've finally made it to the Franz Gertsch museum in Burgdorf, and the people he portrays in his hyper realistic style look like they're getting ready for a Glam Rock Concert.

Although Franz Gertsch participated in the Documenta (back in 1972) and in three Venice Biennales, he is not as known as he deserves to be. I like photo realism in general, and I adore in particular portraits - like the immanently disturbing images painted by Austrian Gottfried Helnwein (everybody knows him at least for the cover of the Skorpions' album "Blackout") or the often blurry black and white portraits by German superstar Gerhard Richter (like his 48 portraits from 1972); or the least known, thus he deserves better, South-Tyrolean Rudolf Stingel.

byemyselftravels
Gottfried Helnwein: "The disasters of war_28"(on show from May 20 to October 29, 2017 at the Werner Berg Museum in Bleiburg / Austria) 

While Gertsch's hyper realistic portraits are not as powerful - or better: as unsettling - as Helnwein's, by capturing the spirit and style of the liberating era of the early 70s, his art is very touching. I look at his great works such as the Luciano Castelli series, and I hear Marc Bolan striking up "She's my woman of gold, and she's not very old, ahaha...". Paintings that do this to you deserve a place in the hall of fame!

byemyselftravels
Detail of "Franz und Luciano"
(From the permanent collection of the Kunsthaus Zürich)

Like I said, people in many of his paintings look like getting ready for some serious Glam Rock - but it's more than unfortunate that none of these great pieces are found at the Franz Gertsch museum in Burgdorf. So we drove from Zurich over an hour to see nine paintings; nine! None of them outstanding, let alone glamorous. And then we drove over an hour back.

byemyselftravels
"See? I told you it's a painting, not a Photograph."
In front of Gertsch's "Frühling" from 2009.

I've seen more and far better pieces by Franz Gertsch in various art museums around the world. And here there were nine.

This is a Gertsch you get to see for instance at the Folkwang Museum in Essen (reviewed in an earlier post):
"Maria (Guadeloupe) (2011/2012)"

So this weekend Zurich. There is chocolate, there is cheese, there are the potent banking companies, there is Heidi, and there are watches. And recently covered by the news the story how a sales person recommended Oprah Winfrey a bargain and the American (!) star took it all wrong because she couldn't imagine that there are people on this planet who do not know her, and all of a sudden Switzerland was suspected to be the KKK-headquarter; I didn't quite get it, because if you point out a good bargain to me, I'll be rather grateful than insulted; especially in ridiculously overpriced Switzerland.

byemyselftravels
Swiss chocolate - presented in an extremely appetizing setting.
(Teuscher store at Storchengasse 9)

Zurich's 400,000 inhabitants certify the place to be one of the cities with the highest quality of life - but nothing in life is free, so it has at the same time the highest costs of living.

Despite Switzerland's squeaky clean reputation, they actually provide the world not only with cheese and pocket knives, but with unusual, quirky artists: whether hundred years ago the Dada-artists of Cabaret Voltaire, fifty years ago "salvager" Jean Tinguely or nowadays freaky sculptors like Fischli and Weiss, ingenious video artist Pipilotti Rist, or Thomas Hirschhorn - many Swiss artists are....special, to say the least.

byemyselftravels
This is where it all began: "Cabaret Voltaire" at Spiegelgasse 1 - home to the Dada movement for over 100 years.

So a visit to the Kunsthaus is a special treat for every art aficionado. And there you finally get to see some Glam Rock from Switzerland.

On the occasion of the laying of the first stone of the Kunsthaus Zurich extension in November 2016, New York based Swiss artist Urs Fischer donated this bronze sculpture (a humongous carrot on a chaise longue) of more than 6,5 x 6,5 feet.
Did I lie?! I'm telling you they are all a bit wacky.




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