In spring 2017, the Musée Jenisch Vevey revisits two key players on the Swiss art scene in the 1990s: the M/2 collective (Jean Crotti, Alain Huck, Robert Ireland, Jean-Luc Manz, Catherine Monney and Christian Messerli), which opens an art space in Vevey in 1987, and the artist Stéphan Landry (1960–2009), a peerless draughtsman whose holdings have recently been donated to the museum. What links them together? An exceptional creative vitality anchored in the everyday that has not yet received the public attention it deserves and has been handed down through oral history. Using archive documents, a film and drawings by Stéphan Landry, the museum revives and retells the story of the M/2 project, its artistic strategy and its role as a laboratory for contemporary art in Switzerland, and showcases Landry’s artistic virtuosity.
Combining more than 170 works from the holdings of the cantonal prints collection with a major corpus from a private collection, this exhibition is devoted to the era of colour engraving – a factor in the success of lithography almost a century after its invention. How do you print a colour engraving? How does it differ from a coloured print? And what is the aesthetic purpose of using colour? How was it exploited by artists such as Odilon Redon, Paul Signac, Paul Gauguin, Pierre Bonnard, Édouard Vuillard and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec? A selection of rare documents and prints reveals the effects of polychromy and the technical processes behind it in artistic production in France around 1890.
In the mid-1980s, Franz Gerstch (b. 1930) invented a wood engraving technique that resembles a “dotted print” method used in the late 15th century. The astonishing woodcuts by the painter and engraver from Bern, often in very large format, resemble photographs at first glance, their subtle contours and nuances bathed in the warmth of a “monochrome” colour. Drawing on its own holdings and loans from elsewhere, the exhibition by the cantonal prints collection at the Musée Jenisch Vevey retraces thirty years of creativity that combine monumental faces with images of nature. In his portraits, which can almost be read as landscapes, views of undergrowth, water and plants that are as precise as they are meditative, Franz Gertsch constantly transposes the beauty of the world into the inexhaustible space of art.
The exhibition is curated by Rainer Michael Mason, an art historian who has long been interested in the work of Franz Gertsch.