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Kunsthaus Zürich explores the topicality of Ferdinand Hodler

"Speaking of Hodler - Current Views of an Icon" is the title of an exhibition at the Kunsthaus Zürich. The museum aims to open up new perspectives on the "national artist" by allowing around 60 paintings by the painter to enter into a dialog with contemporary art.

Ferdinand Hodler (1853-1918) shaped Switzerland's cultural self-image more than almost any other painter of his generation. He is regarded as a "national artist", an idea that is considered outdated and tainted with clichés. "Values such as down-to-earthness ('lumberjack idyll') and national sovereignty have become so interrelated that they have little to do with Hodler's original intentions," writes the Kunstmuseum Zürich in a press release issued on Thursday.

The museum now wants to raise awareness of the topicality and complexity of this Swiss artist. To this end, contemporary artists are entering into a dialog with Hodler. Existing works and works created especially for this exhibition will be presented.

Caroline Bachmann, born in 1963, and Andriu Deplazes, born in 1993, for example, were socialized in Switzerland. They are therefore familiar with Hodler's work. On the other hand, Asim Abdulaziz (1996) and Dani Gal (1976), for example, have rediscovered the Swiss artist.

A total of 30 works by artists from Switzerland and abroad will be placed in relation to around 60 paintings by Hodler on current topics such as climate change, resource management and the depiction of people and their bodies against the backdrop of fluid identities.

The exhibition "Speaking of Hodler - Contemporary Views of an Icon" can be seen from March 8 to June 30. The Kunsthaus curators Sandra Gianfreda and Cathérine Hug developed the concept for the exhibition together with a collective and selected the contemporary artists.

Most of the works by Ferdinand Hodler exhibited in Zurich come from the Kunsthaus and the Musée d'art et d'histoire de Genève. These two museums have the largest public collection of paintings by the Swiss artist. Works from other public and private Swiss collections are also on display.


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