The Nature of Art – Kunstmuseum Winterthur





Kunstmuseum Winterthur



The Nature of Art :
Encounters with Nature, from the 19th century to the Present
31st October, 2010 to 27th February, 2011





The exhibition marking the reopening of the Kunstmuseum Winterthur has as its theme the relationship between art and nature. Selected paintings and drawings of the last 150 years, including numerous masterpieces from the museum’s collection, range from 19th century French landscape painting, through classical modernity up to contemporary works.


Gerhard Richter


Gerhard Richter,
Wasserfall, 1997
Ölfarben auf Leinwand, 126 x 90 cm
Kunstmuseum Winterthur, Ankauf mit Mitteln
aus dem Fonds für gemeinnützige Zwecke des Kantons Zürich, 1998

©2010 Pro Litteris, Zürich





Nature has been viewed the teacher of the arts since antiquity. Art followed the examples as found in nature art and sought to further improve and augment these by rendering them in ideal forms. And yet, in not having been created by human hand nature signifies art’s antipole. Ever since Classicism and Romanticism this unfathomable nature has been experienced as both sublime and threatening.

The Kunstmuseum Winterthur exhibition commences with 19th century landscape painting. Beginning with the new form of “paysage intime,” it then proceeds to the atmospheric snapshots of Impressionism. Paintings by Eugène Delacroix, the Ecole de Barbizon and Gustave Courbet are followed by Camille Pissarro, Alfred Sisley, Claude Monet and Auguste Renoir. Pierre Bonnard follows up on Renoir’s later southern French landscapes. Whereas the effects of nature are registered in the Impressionistic pictures and arranged in well-balanced coloration, in Van Gogh’s work we witness their ecstatic enhancement. Whereas Félix Vallotton presents a classical mise en scène of nature, in Giovanni Segantini’s Engadine paintings and Ferdinand Hodler’s forest scenes and mountain landscapes nature is symbolically and decoratively stylized.

Modernity sets in with Paul Cézanne. Artist’s interest is now directed less towards the motif, than to the laws of form inherent in the work of art itself, a shift which may already be witnessed in Cézanne’s subtly constructed representations of nature. Constantin Brancusi, Piet Mondrian and Paul Klee claim to have created nature anew in the work of art. In his fossilized forests and submarine flora, Max Ernst depicts a surreal anti-nature. Painting and sculpture, Hans Arp once remarked, in “the grand workshop of nature should be anonymous like the clouds, the mountains, the oceans, the animals, humankind”. Fernand Léger, by contrast, does not shy away from confronting the elements of nature with the signs of the technical world.


Félix Vallotton


Félix Vallotton
Vue d’Honfleur, matin d’été,1910
Ölfarben auf Leinwand, 99 x 71 cm
Kunstmuseum Winterthur, Ankauf mit Mitteln
aus dem Legat Albert und Rosa Sulzer-Grossmann, 1911

©2010 Pro Litteris, Zürich

Max Ernst


Max Ernst
Fleurs de neige, 1929
Ölfarben auf Leinwand, 130 x 130 cm
Fondation Beyeler, Riehen/Basel

©2010 Pro Litteris, Zürich

Paul Klee


Paul Klee,
Blühendes, 1934
Ölfarben auf Leinwand, 81,5 x 80 cm
Kunstmuseum Winterthur, Legat Dr. Emil und Clara Friedrich-Jezler, 1973

©2010 Pro Litteris, Zürich





Jackson Pollock appeared on the scene by claiming “I am nature”: the artist epitomizes nature in his actions, representing its energy. In their paintings, Brice Marden and Sylvia Plimack Mangold have recourse to the forms of nature. Nature has inspired lyrical works from Fontana to Mario Merz, Giuseppe Penone and Pedro Cabrita Reis. The works of artists such as Richard Long, Giovanni Anselmo or Roman Signer, by contrast, visualize natural processes. With biting irony, Richard Hamilton presents a nature transfigured by product advertising.

Gerhard Richter returns to the Romantic tradition in landscape painting by confronting it with abstract pictures, the chance appearance of which corresponds to the experience of an overpowering nature. Richter designed a gallery for this exhibition with recently created lacquer on glass paintings.

The exhibition, which runs from the drawings room through the old building and to the new extension, displays paintings, sculptures and drawings of the last 150 years. The chief works from the museum’s collection is supplemented by loans from museums and private collections.


Artists on exhibition:

  • 19th and early 20th century:

    Pierre Bonnard, Paul Cézanne, Antoine, Chintreuil, Lovis Corinth, Gustave Courbet, Charles-François Daubigny, Eugène Delacroix, Narcisse Diaz de la Peña, Giovanni Giacometti, Vincent van Gogh, Ferdinand Hodler, Barthélémy Menn, Claude Monet, Camille Pissarro, Odilon Redon, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Théodore Rousseau, Edouard Sain, Traugott Schiess, Giovanni Segantini, Alfred Sisley, Johann Gottfried Steffan, Constant Troyon, Félix Vallotton, Louis Valtat

  • Classical Modernity:

    Hans Arp, Constantin Brancusi, Max Ernst, Paul Klee, Fernand Léger, Piet Mondrian, Pablo Picasso

  • Post war and Contemporary:

    Giovanni Anselmo, Pedro Cabrita Reis, John Cage, Vija Celmins, Jan Dibbets, Barry Flanagan, Lucio Fontana, Hamish Fulton, Francesco Gennari, Richard Hamilton, Richard Long, Sylvia Plimack Mangold, Brice Marden, Agnes Martin, Mario Merz, Joan Mitchell, Giuseppe Penone, Jackson Pollock, David Rabinowitch, Gerhard Richter, Thomas Schütte, Roman Signer, Thomas Struth, Richard Tuttle, Lawrence Weiner







Courtesy Kunstmuseum Winterthur
Images ©2010 Pro Litteris, Zürich





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~ by Stampfli & Turci on December 10, 2010.

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