Arp Gehr Matisse

March 11th - August 27th 2017, Kunstmuseum

For the first time, the exhibition Arp Gehr Matisse places the work of Ferdinand Gehr (1896–1996), one of the most unusual artists of the twentieth century to work in Switzerland, in the context of the international avant-garde. His works will engage in a dialogue with two central modernist artists, Hans Arp (1886–1966) and Henri Matisse (1869–1954).

The formal and conceptual parallels are astonishing and will open up a new perspective on Gehr’s compositions and use of color. The artist maintained a personal acquaintance with Hans Arp ever since the woodcut Geranien (1928) caught Arp’s attention in the early 1950s and he decided that he simply had to meet the work’s creator. In the case of Arp as well as Gehr, an artistic position that always aims at the essence of things is the key to understanding their art. Organic shapes and the symbolic integration of the human being in the cycle of nature as well as cosmological and religious references can be found in both artists’ work. The radiant pigment as well as the radical reduction of form in Henri Matisse’s late papiers coupés show a strong connection to the concentrated form and bright colors in Ferdinand Gehr’s work.

Finally, prints occupy an important place in the work of all three artists: Arp’s inventive Arpaden (1923), his series Le soleil recerclé (1966), Jazz, one of Matisse’s most beautiful art books from 1947, and all of Gehr’s color woodblock prints created since 1928 will be shown in the exhibition in St. Gallen.

Curator: Roland Wäspe