• Max von Mühlenen
    Spaziergang im Park, 1952
    Öl auf Leinwand
    149 x 129.8 cm
    Eigentum der Schweizerischen Eidgenossenschaft, Bundesamt für Kultur, Bern (als Dauerleihgabe im Aargauer Kunsthaus, Aarau deponiert)
    © 2010 by Bundesamt für Kultur, CH-3003 Bern

Red & Blue. Franz Gertsch and Max von Mühlenen

The exhibition year in the museum franz gertsch begins with a homage by Franz Gertsch (born 1930) to his teacher Max von Mühlenen (1903–1971).

In 1940, Max von Mühlenen opened his famous art school in the roof truss of the Corn House at Bern, and many young artists found their way to their own styles here, among them, aside from Franz Gertsch, Peter Stein (born 1922), Franz Eggenschwiler (1930–2000), and Rolf Iseli (born 1934).

Max von Mühlenen particularly occupied himself with the expressive impact of color, an interest that ultimately culminated in the theory of “pure color” and the “red room.” Von Mühlenen’s color theory attributed a spatial characteristic to the color red and viewed the color blue as object-oriented. He subsequently produced abstract red-blue landscapes, interiors, and nudes in which color and form assumed the function of one-point perspective.

The choice and impact of color also plays a decisive role in the work of Franz Gertsch, especially in the monochrome woodcuts. The prints astound the viewer on the one hand by means of their incredibly perfect representation of reality while the motif takes a backseat in favor of the pure impact of the color on the other. The secret of this impact rests on the finely balanced relationship between motif and color that regularly oscillates between the poles of abstraction and reality and which keeps the viewer’s perception in motion.

Works in the two primary colors of red and blue by the teacher and the pupil are now juxtaposed on the museum’s basement level. A representative selection of works by Max von Mühlenen’s focusing on the red-blue phase provides insights into the oeuvre of this Bern artist and influential teacher. On this occasion, Franz Gertsch is exhibiting newly printed, large-format woodcuts in bright to dark variations of red and blue. In addition, two of his early works will be on show that he made 1948 while attending Max von Mühlenen’s art school.

The exhibition was curated by Anna M. Schafroth and Anna Wesle in cooperation with Franz Gertsch.

Red & Blue. Franz Gertsch and Max von Mühlenen