Franz Gertsch, Swiss (1930 - )

Franz Gertsch, born in Mörigen in 1930, is considered one of the most important contemporary Swiss artists. With his hyper-realistic painting and his woodcuts, which are unique both in technique and size, he also acquired an outstanding reputation outside Switzerland. Between his international breakthrough at the documenta 5 in Kassel in 1972, and the presentation of his works at the Biennale in Venice in 1999, a rich pictorial and graphic work emerged, which shows a very particular approach to reality.

Reality to Franz Gertsch means not only a pictorial, but also a conceptual challenge. Even though his starting point is photographs or slide projections, the pictures follow their own inherent logic which aims at an absolute concord of all elements. Unlike the American photo-realistic painters, he uses a brush instead of a spray gun. The purity of the used material is program: From the colours, often made of minerals such as lapis lazuli, azurite and malachite, over binding agents to the canvas or hand-made Japanese paper, everything is chosen carefully and brought to perfect harmony with the work of art. His work assimilates a large part of the European painting tradition - from Jan van Eyck, Albrecht Dürer and Leonardo da Vinci to Caspar David Friedrich and Ferdinand Hodler - without betraying modernity.

The woodcut work of Franz Gertsch is considered absolutely unique. In an unprecedented precision with respect to both cutting and printing and in monumental formats which push the limits of what is feasible in paper production, Gertsch has opened new dimensions for this traditional medium.

This exceptional work has not lacked recognition. Large exhibitions, for instance in the museum of Modern Art in New York, in Kyoto, Berlin, London and other places, bear witness to this esteem. Gertsch is represented in German and American museums. In Switzerland, however, we have seen comparatively little of him so far. The collections of the Kunsthaus Zurich and the Berner Kunstmuseum cannot be regarded as representative. With the museum franz gertsch in Burgdorf, situated not far from his residence and place of work in Rüschegg, his outstanding oeuvre will now be adequately appreciated.

Born on March 8, 1930 in Mörigen, canton of Berne

1947-50 Education at the painting school Max von Mühlenen, Berne
1950-52 Further education by Hans Schwarzenbach, Berne
1963 Marriage to Maria Meer
1967 Louise Aeschlimann-Scholarship
1969 First large size realistic paintings
1970 Family and group scenes, "Situations" portraits
1972 Participation in the documenta V with the picture Medici
1974-75 DAAD-Scholarship, Berlin
1976 Gertsch moves to Rüschegg
1978 Participation in the Biennale in Venice
1980 Gertsch starts painting a series of portraits with a self-portrait, followed by Irene, Tabea, Verena, Christina, Johanna and Simone
1986 Gertsch stops painting and concentrates on large-scale woodcuts
1994 Starts painting again - until 1999 Gräser I-IV and Silvia (1997/98) are created
1997 "Kaiserring" award of the city of Goslar
1999 Individual presentation at the Biennale in Venice
2002 Opening of the museum franz gertsch in Burgdorf, Switzerland
2003 Participation in the Biennale of Venice

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