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Franz Gertsch

Franz Gertsch, Self-Portrait (1980), Acrylic on unprimed cotton, 257 x 391 cm, Galerie Michael Haas, Berlin,           © Franz Gertsch

Franz Gertsch, born in 1930 in the Swiss town of Mörigen, is numbered among the most significant contemporary artists in Switzerland. From the time of his international breakthrough at the documenta 5 in Kassel in 1972 until the present day, he has created a wide range of paintings and graphic works, which attempt a very special approach to reality. For Franz Gertsch, reality means both a pictorial and a conceptual challenge. Although he uses photos or slide projections as his points of departure, the paintings follow a logic all of their own, which aims for a rightness among all the elements.

Woodcuts assume a special position in the works of Franz Gertsch. In a heretofore virtually unknown precision of execution and in monumental formats reaching the limits of the possible in the production of the paper alone, Gertsch has opened up new dimensions in this traditional medium. With the opening of the Museum Franz Gertsch in Burgdorf, not far from his residence and workshop in Rüschegg, his outstanding life’s work will now be given appropriate recognition.


1930    Born on March 8 in Mörigen, canton of Bern


Education at the art school of Max von Mühlenen, Berne


Further education with Hans Schwarzenbach, Bern


Marriage to Maria Meer


First large-size realistic paintings


Family and group scenes, "Situations"-portraits


Participation at the „documenta V", Kassel, with the picture Medici


Gertsch family moves to Rüschegg


Participation at the Venice Biennale


Gertsch starts painting a series of portraits with Self-Portrait; followed by Irene, Tabea, Verena, Christina, Johanna


Gertsch stops painting and concentrates on large-scale woodcuts


Starts painting again; until 1999 Gräser I-IV and Silvia I (1997/98) are created


Solo show at the Venice Biennale


Opening of the Museum Franz Gertsch in Burgdorf/CH

2005„Retrospective" at the Museum Franz Gertsch and the Kunstmuseum Bern, further venues of the exhibition are Aachen, Tubingen and Vienna (2006)
2007-11          Cycle of the four seasons with the paintings Herbst [Autumn] (2007/08), Sommer [Summer] (2008-09), Winter (2009) and Frühling [Spring] (2010/11)
2011„Franz Gertsch. Jahreszeiten [Seasons], works from 1983 to 2011", Kunsthaus Zürich

Guadeloupe triptych with Maria (2011/12), Bromelia (2012) and Soufrière (2012/13)

2012Frühling [Spring] (2010/11) is used as backdrop for the official photograph of the Swiss Government
 Swiss Post issues three stamps inspired by Franz Gertsch's woodcuts
 Museum Franz Gertsch celebrates its tenth anniversary


1949De Harris Grant
1967Louise Aeschlimann Grant
1974-75DAAD Grant, Berlin
1997Kaiserring award of the city of Goslar
1998Prize of the Bürgi-Willert-Stiftung
2005honorary citizen award of the Christian-Albrechts-University of Kiel