• Varlin
    Le Casino de Nice, 1938
    Öl auf Leinwand / oil on canvas
    71 × 91 cm
    Privatsammlung / private collection
    © 2017, P. Guggenheim/ProLitteris, Zurich

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Varlin. Perspectives

On the occasion of the 40th anniversary of his death, the Museum Franz Gertsch is showing an exhibition of works by the Swiss painter Varlin, the first in a museum in German-speaking Switzerland in over ten years. Varlin, born in 1900 in Zurich as Willy Guggenheim, has a special position in the history of twentieth-century Swiss painting. Unswayed by the avant-garde and abstract tendencies of his time, he created an autonomous figurative oeuvre that focuses on the fragility of everyday life. His favourite motifs included portraits, interiors, architectural forms, landscapes, still lifes and nudes. Varlin died in 1977 in Bondo in the Val Bregaglia.

Proceeding from a juxtaposition of two large-format works, the painting made in 1964 for the Swiss National Exhibition in Lausanne, “Die Heilsarmee” [The Salvation Army] and “Leute aus meinem Dorf” [People from my Village] from 1976, the selection of works concerns various perspectives and particularly the fragility of familiar positions. Varlin’s analytical view allowed him to regularly formulate the abysses of human existence. In the process, the painter became a pictorial narrator. He often directly
incorporated into the picture, what played out before his eyes during the painting process. From his beginnings as a painter in Paris to the late, in part large-format pictures made in Bondo, he consistently developed new painterly points of view. As a portraitist, he managed to get writer friends like Friedrich Dürrenmatt, artist colleagues, his sister and models to assume unconventional poses. He not only lent a face to well-known personalities but also to people living on the edge of society. His depictions
of streets, squares, buildings with in part perplexing perspective effects also illustrate emptiness and isolation. Objects are given a distinctive life of their own, for example a bed situated in the studio. The present selection of works brings together paintings from private collections, museums as well as the artist’s own estate.

The exhibition was curated by Anna M. Schafroth and Anna Wesle in collaboration
with Patrizia Guggenheim and Tobias Eichelberg from the Varlin-Archiv in Bondo GR.

The exhibition catalogue featuring texts by Anna M. Schafroth and Ulrich Weber will be published by modo Verlag, Freiburg i. Br.

The exhibition is under the patronage of Dr. iur. Bernhard Pulver, President of the Government Council of the Canton of Berne.

The exhibition and catalogue have been realized with the generous support of the Ursula Wirz-Stiftung.


Varlin. Perspectives

On the occasion of the 40th anniversary of his death, the Museum Franz Gertsch is showing an exhibition of works by the Swiss painter Varlin.