Appetite for Risk: Works by Emilio Stanzani
The Bechtler Museum of Modern Art presents a focused exhibition of works from its permanent collection by Swiss artist Emilio Stanzani (1906-1977). On view from March 22 to September 30, 2013 (extended from the original closing date of July 1) in Appetite for Risk: Works by Emilio Stanzani are 12 works created between 1956 and 1968. The works include drawings, prints and sculpture.
Stanzani started out as a craftsman who made a living working as a stone mason, plasterer and technical sculptor but by World War II, he had committed himself to being an artist fulltime and began to experiment in a variety of media. In addition to bronze, he sculpted in stone and wood and started painting and drawing.
During the war, many artists fled to Switzerland for refuge, meeting up with other artists who were already in the country. During this time, Stanzani formed friendships with some of these artists including three who are represented in the Bechtler collection: Alberto Giacometti, Germaine Richier and Marino Marini.
Not only was Stanzani influenced by these and other artists, but he was also greatly influenced by the French mime Marcel Marceau. The two met in 1952 and formed a lifelong friendship. Marceau inspired Stanzani to create harlequins, clowns and acrobats (a theme also established by Picasso, Braque and others). Stanzani had great interest in the challenge of showing figures in motion. His sculpture Figuren-transport, on view in this exhibition (and shown below), represents an abstract acrobatic scene.
This exhibition highlights the era in which Stanzani transitioned from representation art to abstract art. However, even though his images were abstract it didn’t necessarily mean they were non-representational. Stanzani remained influenced by objects and nature. He focused on depicting the complex texture of rock formations; he liked the qualities of wood and representing trees and forests. Stanzani remained committed to capturing elemental aspects of the human figure but all still highly abstracted in his vocabulary.
The exhibition also highlights the relationship between Stanzani and the Swiss Bechtler family, from which the Bechtler art collection derives. In the show are hand-executed holiday cards that Stanzani made specifically for the Bechtlers. Also on view is a crayon drawing created for a one-of-a-kind portfolio filled with original works by various artists on the occasion of patriarch Hans Bechtler’s 60th birthday.
The Bechtler brothers, Hans and Walter, commissioned Stanzani to create Luwa Jubiläum in celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Bechtlers' company, Luwa AG. The brothers are both depicted in the bronze relief. Created in 1958, it was one of Stanzani’s last figural representational works.
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