• franz gertsch
    Patti Smith II, 1978
    Acryl auf ungrundierter Baumwolle| Acrylic on unprimed cotton, 285 x 420 cm
    Kunstmuseum Bern

franz gertsch - patti smith

„It was her face which first fascinated me,“ says Franz Gertsch about rock legend Patti Smith. After seeing her photo on a record cover by Robert Mapplethorpe, Gertsch – also enthusiast of her voice and music - decided to paint her.

Franz Gertsch’s paintings of this rock icon of a whole generation largely contributed to our collective visual memory of her. He presents her in an unpretentious, realistic and authentic way: crouching in front of an amplifier, seen from behind or removed from the centre to the very edge of the painting, even a bit defensive next to some huge microphones. Altogether, it seems like a counter-concept to Andy Warhol’s mise en scène of media personages such as Marilyn Monroe and Elvis Presley. More than any other painter, Gertsch also reanimates the 1970s in his paintings through his perfect capturing of the clothes and colours, the specific performance ambiance in those days.

The cycle of Franz Gertsch’s Patti Smith paintings is shown together in this exhibition for the first time ever. In Burgdorf we present four of the large-sized paintings (Patti IV is on view at the Venice Biennale until November this year), along with the early masterpiece At Luciano’s House from 1973 and the artist’s self-portrait from 1980 which is closely related to his paintings of the singer. The show travels afterwards to the Pinakothek der Moderne in Munich, where all five of the Patti Smith paintings are on display.

In addition, this exhibition presents the series of photographs on which Gertsch based his paintings. Gertsch took one series of photos at a poetry and music performance by Patti Smith in a Cologne gallery for the commemoration of Arthur Rimbaud´s death anniversary in 1977. One year later, at the occasion of a studio visit from Patti Smith at Rüschegg, Franz Gertsch took another series of photographies and used one of those for his last painting of the series, Patti Smith V.

The exhibition catalogue includes texts by Jean-Christophe Ammann, Dietrich Diedrichsen, Bernhard Schwenk and Reinhard Spieler.

franz gertsch - patti smith