Der Sammlungsraum

Seit einigen Jahren verfügt die Stiftung Kunsthaus-Sammlung über einen Raum, in welchem sie ihre Neuanschaffungen oder eine Auswahl der Werke aus der Sammlung zeigen kann.

Figures détournées


With works by Haus am Gern, Hervé Graumann, Michael Sailstorfer, Urs Lüthi

Figures détournées brings together various portraits from the Kunsthaus Collection that are connected by the irritating character of what they depict. The multi-faceted forms of this misuse of the genre implemented by the artists engage our perception and therefore also our reflexion. These (self)-portraits are indeed presented as a questioning of art, society, perception or the formal aspect of figuration. Through these critical components the works come with a degree of mischievousness, playing with conventions and having fun with this.

Since 1998 Haus am Gern, consisting of Barbara Meyer Cesta (b. 1959, CH) and Rudolf Steiner (b. 1964, CH) have continually been making portraits of themselves as an artist couple for art institutions with which they feel connected. In  Selbstportrait als Künstlerpaar XVI (SVP) (2011) the duo approaches artistic creativity with lightness, irony and a sharp critical eye. On the occasion of the Cantonale Berne Jura in 2011 they ordered two pizzas for each of the eight art institutions involved, handing over the artistic execution of the project to the pizza delivery staff. These received only the instruction to create pizzas based on a portrait of the artist couple. After the delivery the final result was photographed and then eaten. The following day the photographs were integrated in the various exhibitions of the Cantonale. Close to the tradition of institutional critique, this work presents an instrument for self-reflexion on the circuits, modes of operation and conventions of the artistic environment, at the same time mischievously undermining these.

Hervé Graumann (b. 1963, CH), a pioneer of digital art in Switzerland, confronts the genre of the self- portrait with great delight by creating his virtual double Raoul Pictor cherche son style (1993-2000). Through the transfer from pictorial art to the digital domain, this work is concerned with the changes in our relationship with the world instigated by digital innovations, especially their formal and conceptual presentations. The programme developed by Graumann can produce – through the random generation and combination of drawn elements – an endless number of unique creations that all exhibit attributes of authenticity and singularity usually found in series of works of art: date, signature and numbering. With these new digital tools Graumann undermines the myth of the artist. Individual creativity, as recognised in the art world, is here compromised by this autonomous generation software. With Blanc sur Blanc (mit den Herren Damien Blanc und Alberto Blanc) (1993) Graumann refers humorously to the iconic work of the same name by Kasimir Malewitsch by playing with the semantics of the title. Far removed from the suprematist experiments of metaphysical abstraction, this photographic portrait is decidedly figurative: it shows two men, one on the shoulders of the other, while both have the same surname «Blanc».

With Antiherbst (2012) the German conceptual artist Michael Sailstorfer (b. 1979, DE) composes a poetic portrait in which nature and artificiality are intertwined. The series of 12 photographs documents the seasonal change of a tree on the banks of the Rhein near Walsum (DE). Over eight weeks Sailstorfer and his team collected the autumn leaves that had fallen on the ground, in order to then paint them green. The artist subsequently attached the leaves one by one to the branches, thereby creating a tree that defied the course of time and the seasons. By reversing the natural process Sailstorfer questions the relationship between people and their environment, art and nature as well as the notion of intervention. This Sisyphus-like work intervenes moreover in a suburban space in a highly industrialised region of western Germany, in which nothing is really natural, but rather everything is cultivated by human interventions.

For many years Urs Lüthi (*1947, CH) is concerned in his work with social and philosophical questions. Always taking himself as the starting point and focus of his work, he researches the possibilities and forms of artistic expression via his own staging. This is also the case with the PROTOTYPEN from the series ART IS THE BETTER LIFE (2009): the five figures combine religious statues with the artist’s face. The sculpture «Priest», seen here, testifies to the ambiguity of such presentations. By embodying himself in a Christian figure, protected by glass and standing on a pedestal, is the artist trying to undermine religious sacredness? Or is he perhaps underlining in a humorous way his megalomaniac stance as an artist? Many questions are asked that invite the visitor to reflect.

Curator: Laura Weber