Torn from Nature
March 10 to May 26, 2013

“Dürer’s creed: ‘As truly art is buried in nature, whoever can tear it out, he possesses it,’ preached by my father when I was a child, regained significance. Tearing out to me meant in the first place to find suitable subjects amongst nature’s unfathomable richness. I found them around the house and down in the valley close to the wild Blackwater.” – Franz Gertsch

Swiss artist Franz Gertsch (born 1930) took a pause from painting for a few years in 1986 and turned to woodcarvings. Gertsch, having initially achieved recognition in the late 1970s with hyperrealist paintings, discovered woodcarvings as the medium that permitted him to work serially on one subject with various colours. The exhibition at Museum Sinclair-Haus displays a representative selection of Franz Gertsch’s woodcarvings.

The portraits Natascha (1986) and Silvia (2008) provide chronological parentheses for the exhibition, which predominantly shows large-format prints and extensive series of nature and landscape depictions. In these finely crafted woodcarvings, Gertsch captures shallow ripples on the surface of a body of water, spills out forest trails on the paper, and diverts attention to close-ups of blades of grass. Through taking initial photographic templates from the real environment, the subjects develop through a multistage process of creation towards the fascinating immateriality of an atmospheric colour-space. During this process of creation, Gertsch transfers the image template to a delicate pattern of points of light und subsequently uses a gouge to drive the subject into the wooden panel point for point.
Behind a permeable curtain of monochrome colour his woodcarvings enable a completely novel perspective on familiar subjects taken from nature. The exhibition, conceptualised in cooperation with Franz Gertsch, brings together the three decisive components of his work, time, subject and colour, in a focused selection.

Franz Gertsch lives and works in Rüschegg in the canton of Bern, Switzerland.


1930 born in Möringen, canton Bern, Switzerland
1947-1950 training in the drawing school Max von Mühlenen, Bern
1950-1952 further education with Hans Schwarzenbach, Bern
1972 participation documenta V, exhibition at Kunstmuseum Luzern
1974-1975 DAAD-scholarship, Berlin
1976 move to Rüschegg in the canton Bern
1978 participation La Biennale di Venezia
1986 first large-format woodcuts are produced
1990 exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, New York
1994 Staatliche Kunsthalle Baden-Baden
1996 exhibition at the Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt
1997 award of the Kaiserring of the city of Goslar
1999 La Biennale di Venezia, single presentation
2002 opening of the museum franz gertsch, Burgdorf
2003 exhibition at the Pinakothek der Moderne, München
Third participation La Biennale di Venezia
2005 retrospective at the Kunstmuseum Bern and in the
museum franz gertsch, Burgdorf
2006 retrospective at the Ludwig Forum für Internationale
Kunst, Aachen, in the Albertina and in the MUMOK, Wien
2011 exhibition at the Kunsthaus Zürich
2012 jubilee exhibition at the museum franz gertsch, Burgdorf

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