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Old 01.09.2006, 11:19
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Art and Swiss Creativity

After the wandering on the ADD topic regarding the Swiss and art/creativity, I thought it would be an interesting topic to discuss at greater length.

Someone on that thread posted a list of about 25 artists since the 1400s who are recognized. I'll dare to say that the list is probably incomplete and even when complete is far smaller per capita than contributions from other countries.

The question is asked why. Is it because the Swiss society represses creativity? Then why the gorgeous buildings and artwork that has historically been painted on them.

It seems that, in my observer opinion, that perhaps creativity here is OK only when done within the parameters of acceptability.

Basel's Fasnacht has some amazing young (and not so young) artists on display every year. The lanterns they produce are amazing - but once Fasnacht is done, so is your art. And no real efforts are made to encourage this kind of creativity year-round.

And have you ever noticed the amazing grafitti art that crops up, particularly near the Basel SBB? There are also dedicated grafitti art spaces given to the artists, who legally spray and share their art.

Yet you don't have small galleries, artist scenes, etc. in large numbers here.

Our business is located just over the border in Weil am Rhein, Germany. It is in a small artists enclave, a group of offices, art rooms, tiny artists flats, a restaurant, a small factory, etc. in an old boiler house. It is owned by the city and grants are given to the artists. There are a few Swiss artists who make that their home, at least for their art, because there's nothing available like it on the other side of the Rhein.

The weird part, IMO, is that the Swiss do love good art. The museums here in Basel are truly world-class and have had some fantastic exhibitions.

So, what's the deal - why do you think there's this great disparity?
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Old 01.09.2006, 11:29
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Re: Art and Swiss Creativity

what about swiss typography? A swiss designed arguably the best ever typeface - Helvetica - used throughout the world.

The Swiss typography movement was huge - I studied it at art collegee and at the time I was really influenced by swiss design - just wish I remembered more from my art history lessons to sound more intellectual on this post
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Old 01.09.2006, 11:32
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Re: Art and Swiss Creativity

Isn't art often purchased by the rich, but produced by the not-so-rich? Isn't it true that much art is produced by artists struggling to make ends meet?

With this in mind, if I were an artist I would relocate to a much cheaper country to work! This could explain the lack of artists' facilities here?
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Old 01.09.2006, 12:09
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Re: Art and Swiss Creativity

Quote:
Isn't art often purchased by the rich, but produced by the not-so-rich? Isn't it true that much art is produced by artists struggling to make ends meet?

With this in mind, if I were an artist I would relocate to a much cheaper country to work! This could explain the lack of artists' facilities here?
Actually, where I live (west 8004) there are a lot of artist studios/ateliers in the corner shops/offices of the apartment blocks. I can never work out how they can afford such space. The art scene seems to be very alive with small exhibitions & galleries around the area.
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Old 01.09.2006, 13:22
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Re: Art and Swiss Creativity

From top of my head Switzerland is supposed to have more art galleries per capita than any other country in the world (it is in the top 5 atleast).

To repeat what I had written on the other thread for everyones benefit-

Le Corbusier was Swiss. As famous as they get (ok naturalized French but Swiss enough).

The amazing artist who designed the alien in the movie Alien
http://www.hrgiger.com/

Helvetica font + Swiss graphic design is world famous.

Aberli, Johann Ludwig - (1723 - 1786)
Aeschbacher, Hans - (1906 - 1980)
Agasse, Jacques-Laurent - (1767 - 1849)
Albertolli, - ( - )
Amman, Jost - (1539 - 1591)
Bill, Max - (1908 - 1994)
Böcklin, Arnold - (1827 - 1901)
Fuseli, Henry - (1741 - 1825)
Giacometti, Alberto - (1901 - 1966)
Gleyre, Charles - (1808 - 1874)
Graf, Urs - (1485 - 1527)
Hodler, Ferdinand - (1853 - 1918)
Howzer, Wolfgang - ( - )
Itten, Johannes - (1888 - 1967)
Kauffmann, Angelica - (1741 - 1807)
Klee, Paul - (1879 - 1940)
Lindtmayer, Daniel - (1552 - 1602)
Liotard, Jean-Etienne - (1702 - 1789)
Lohse, Richard Paul - (1902 - 1988)
Manuel, Niklaus - (1484 - 1530)
Moilliet, Louis - (1880 - 1962)
Stimmer, Tobias - (1539 - 1584)
Tinguely, Jean - (1925 - 1991)
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Old 01.09.2006, 13:33
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Re: Art and Swiss Creativity

Quote:
Actually, where I live (west 8004) there are a lot of artist studios/ateliers in the corner shops/offices of the apartment blocks. I can never work out how they can afford such space.
Lot of my creative friends actually rent a floor together so it works out cheaper. I have been invited to join but for now prefer working from my home studio. If I do decide to join them then for a trendy floor space shared by few artists inthe middel of Zurich city I would be paying CHF500 to CHF 1500 per month. Which is hardly over the top expensive when you consider some of the rent people on this forum are paying. So you can rent a small flat to live/sleep in for say CHF 1000 and then you spend most of your time in the creative studio and pay CHF 1500 for it. Total rent per month CHF 2500.
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Old 01.09.2006, 13:36
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Re: Art and Swiss Creativity

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From top of my head Switzerland is supposed to have more art galleries per capita than any other country in the world (it is in the top 5 atleast).
That doesn't surprise me - but to refer to my earlier point galleries are usually what sells the art, not produce it. I would guess that there is a correlation between the wealth of a nation and the amount of galleries. I'm not saying that there are no artists in Switzerland (I don't think anyone was), but perhaps that there are more "artist" friendly places that here. You know where artists hang out, paint, drink coffee and talk about "art" stuff. I wouldn't know because I'm not an artist and came last in art class.

Quote:
Actually, where I live (west 8004) there are a lot of artist studios/ateliers in the corner shops/offices of the apartment blocks. I can never work out how they can afford such space. The art scene seems to be very alive with small exhibitions & galleries around the area.
Exactly - I'm not having a go at your choice of digs, but ever noticed how artists tend to go to the poorer, more diverse areas. That is until they become super trendy and the artists have to move out because they can't afford it anymore (e.g. Soho) - but the galleries remain

Is art the same as design? Both require a degree of creativity, but are they the same. I think we went into this question quite a bit on the design thread.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but the Swissness in graphic design refers to a particular philosphy or approach to design which was very popular a couple of decades back (don't make me go back to wikipedia to check, I've been there enough today!), which is different to say that Swiss (right now) are good at graphic design. Like with the architecture idea - there are creative people, the question is whether the public want to look at their work, or whether brilliant designers have to stifle their creativity in order to provide something that will sell.

Maybe we shouldn't be asking whether the Swiss themselves are creative, but whether the Swiss population at large responds well to creativity in others?

Case in point - why is it cool to create entire buildings in unfinished concrete - as if they are somehow part of a underground car park? I find it depressing
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Old 01.09.2006, 13:42
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Re: Art and Swiss Creativity

If steel / metal / glass is "modern" keep it.
I do NOT like the modern architecture in CH. I suppose this goes for most places nowadays.

I find the above sterile and characterless, maybe I should have been born 500 years ago.

Now Konstanz is a cosy little town...


JC
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Old 01.09.2006, 14:02
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Re: Art and Swiss Creativity

Well, the minimalism, or should that be Minimalism, is connected in my mind to NOT MAKING MISTAKES.

Viz. the Economy. It mightn't be interesting but it does no wrong.

Another reason why 'artists' rent ateliers is because it's kinda embarrassing to bring a client into your living room when your flatmates damp clothes are on the radiator, etc. That and the gravitas of having ones Brass Plate on the door of your 'work zone' make ateliers attractive.

And I'll never forgive the swine who 'designed' the vegetable peeler/finger nail slicer that's so common here (and which, BTW, makes a great cheap gift to design snobs!)

Last edited by Uncle Max; 01.09.2006 at 22:17.
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Old 01.09.2006, 14:05
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Re: Art and Swiss Creativity

Quote:
Well, the minimalism, or should that be Minimalism, is connected in my mind to NOT MAKING MISTAKES.
Interesting - so is the obsession with unfinished concrete simply a way to avoid making a mistake? If it - they failed
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Old 01.09.2006, 14:06
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Re: Art and Swiss Creativity

Have you seen the art posters that appear everywhere? The standard of graphic design in CH is still high. I am not talking about those chezzy bling bling ones designed in MS word I see lot of those shocking posters as well.

The AIDS campaign was one of the best I have ever seen. Few years ago they had those naked vegetable poster all over the place. Now posters showing humans playing dangerous sports naked....ice hockey, motorbike racing etc.

Ads on TV

Need to be loged in to Yourtube for this one

Helvetica is still a cool font despite MS bastardizing it with that rip off font called Arial!


For me art and design are both part of the visually creative fields.

Ok I would like to type more but I am in the middle of a deadline so I got to go.
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Old 01.09.2006, 16:53
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Re: Art and Swiss Creativity

I completely agree. I think it is simply a matter of the definition of creativity. Swiss simply tend to be "creative" in a more structured, concrete way (Klee is a perfect example of the affect of Swiss culture on aesthetics). They tend to excel at very "practical" arts: architecture, furniture design, graphic design, even business. I do consider the creative enterprise as an artistic endeavor - the Freitag bag is annoyingly ubiquitous here, but it was a stroke of really intelligent creativity in sourcing materials. And exactly the same thing goes for the revolutionary cencepts of swatch.

Creativity takes many forms.
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Old 01.09.2006, 17:15
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Re: Art and Swiss Creativity & Swiss Humor(?)

Sorry, one more on this topic, and kind of a merger with the humor thread....

i recently read something about comic strips, which very assuredly stated the widely-recognized inventor of the comic strip was a swissie. rudolphe töpffer was the name...

http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rodolphe_T%C3%B6pffer

i found this little factoid quite surprising and interesting!
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Old 01.09.2006, 19:02
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Re: Art and Swiss Creativity

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I completely agree. I think it is simply a matter of the definition of creativity. Swiss simply tend to be "creative" in a more structured, concrete way (Klee is a perfect example of the affect of Swiss culture on aesthetics). They tend to excel at very "practical" arts: architecture, furniture design, graphic design, even business. I do consider the creative enterprise as an artistic endeavor - the Freitag bag is annoyingly ubiquitous here, but it was a stroke of really intelligent creativity in sourcing materials. And exactly the same thing goes for the revolutionary cencepts of swatch.

Creativity takes many forms.
Very good points. Darn how could I miss Swatch and Freitag bags
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Old 01.09.2006, 21:47
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Re: Art and Swiss Creativity

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From top of my head Switzerland is supposed to have more art galleries per capita than any other country in the world (it is in the top 5 atleast).
Perhaps the expensive stuff, but nothing I'd really be interested in. Is it my prejudice showing? Perhaps. But I meant (and should have been clearer in stating) small coffeshops or cafes (or, as I have been to in Zurich, a tattoo shop who has held art openings) featuring the art of small, unknown artists. The real art of the real people struggling to get by.

Quote:
The amazing artist who designed the alien in the movie Alien
http://www.hrgiger.com/
Yes, he's the only artist I mentioned by name in the other thread. He's an amazing artist and long been one of my favorite contempoary artists.

Quote:
Helvetica font + Swiss graphic design is world famous.
Good point on the font and some graphic design. But that's not really what I was talking about. Nor were artists from the 1400s through the early 1800s. I am seeing now I obviously didn't make myself clear.

I just don't see the "out of the norm", different, creative, taking risks, not being conformist groups here, art or music. I know of a few small music scenes, know many of the musicians, and I know what they experience here.

People who do walk around looking non-conformist are stared at, openly and somewhat obnoxiously.

Unless you practice very traditional styles of art or classical music, you don't have a snowball's chance in ... to make any headway in art in Switzerland.

That doesn't mean there aren't great Swiss artists. Look, as I mentioned, the Basel Fasnacht art. Some of it is just amazing. Same with the grafitti artists. Can't tell you about many others, simply because I've had little to no exposure to them. I don't know if they even exist
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Old 01.09.2006, 22:18
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Re: Art and Swiss Creativity

Evil actually I understand your point and I agree that the creative fields here are not on the same level as UK in general and London in particular. I was just sticking up for my Swiss mates who are creative and and not the typical conformist Swiss. They don't deserve to be lumped in with everyone.
Btw Giger was not allowed to display one of the alien models outside his studio entrance. Why? The locals found it offensive or something I don't know what happened in the end.
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Old 01.09.2006, 22:29
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Re: Art and Swiss Creativity

Quote:
Evil actually I understand your point and I agree that the creative fields here are not on the same level as UK in general and London in particular. I was just sticking up for my Swiss mates who are creative and and not the typical conformist Swiss. They don't deserve to be lumped in with everyone.

Btw Giger was not allowed to display one of the alien models outside his studio entrance. Why? The locals found it offensive or something I don't know what happened in the end.
True, it is not the same as in the UK or the US, or in many parts of Europe.

I'd heard about that with him. Not surprised that people would find it offensive in the little bit of Chur where he lives! I need to get up to his bar one of these days...
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Old 01.09.2006, 22:54
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Re: Art and Swiss Creativity

Perhaps there's a wider connection between perceived creativity, social/cultural regard and the economy (in the Swiss world according to Uncle Max...) in that matters are usually consequential in a very lineal, direct way.

When I first arrived here I used to compliment/joke that the Swiss never had a Plan B, because Plan A always worked - why wouldn't it? The unexpected never arose and as a side effect there's the famous dour humour.

The difficulties arise when Plan A is no longer enough, but there's no Plan B. This lateral approach to life is a necessity in Anglo-Saxon countries and hence, perhaps, the deeper cultural impact we're used to eg, with comedy, music etc.

I also think this accounts for the difference in the drinking 'culture' here. Generally there is less of a kamikaze attitude to drink than say, in the UK. Perhaps this has to do with the need for escapism from the crushing pain of existence in the UK; here, life ain't too bad (or we reach for the rifles when it is...) It raises the question: do you need social/emotional tension to create art of merit? And is there an intangible extra value in the emotional input of the work?

I kinda prefer the boozy, screwed-up approach to the ordered, controlled output (rather a bottle of Absinthe with Picasso than Herzog and de Meuron) but that's the rub: it's a personal preference.

Forgive the wooly thinking, but I'm no social scientist or art historian

I do appreciate, however, the publics appetite for cultural/artistic work, especially in the public realm (Teddybears on the ZH Bahnhofstrasse notwithstanding!) I think it's great there are Henry Moores, Tingueleys etc. dotted around our cities. People are great movie, concert and theatre goers here. It's just curious why there's not more grass-roots artistic work evident. And why jokes fall flat...
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