Japan’s best-known tiger

The time is 1786… On one moonless night, Japanese artist Nagasawa Rosetsu painted a huge tiger along with a dragon on the sliding panels of Muryōji Temple in Kushimonto. Descending from a “lineage of eccentrics”, Rosetsu (1754-1799) had samurai ancestors. A dazzling artistic genius who had a taste for sake, he quickly became a sensation in the art circles of the imperial capital of Kyoto, as one of the major disciples of the famous painter Maruyama Ōkyo. Quite a few moons later, today it’s at the Rietberg Museum in Zurich that Nagasawa Rosetsu crops up again, at a major exhibition whose title resounds like a spell: “Ferocious Brush”… Steering this vibrant show are two curators, Khanh Trinh, curator of the Japanese and Korean art department at the Rietberg Museum, here accompanied by Matthew McKelway, professor of Japanese art history at Columbia University, New York, and also director of the Mary Griggs Burke Centre for Japanese Art. And here, you have to admit that results are on a par with Rosetsu’s talent: mind-blowing. Let’s remember that it took three years to prepare the exhibition. While Rosetsu has already been shown in Japan, in 2000, 2011 and 2017, this is the first time that a monographic show on such a scale is being dedicated to him in the West. In total, 55 pieces, paintings and drawings, some of which come from one of Kyoto’s major Zen Buddhism centres, as well as German and American museums. We find kakejikus and other naturalist makimonos, paravents featuring fantastic landscapes, the famous gigantic tiger and dragon on twelve panels, executed in Indian ikon paper… Add to this the tour-de-force identical reconstruction of the spaces of the Muryōji Temple on a 1:1 scale, and you have an incredible overview of the art of Rosetu. A Rosetsu...

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News on Manifesta 11

Manifesta 11 — The European Biennial of Contemporary Art, to be held from 22 June to 18 September 2016 in Zurich, has unveiled part of its programme. Titled “What People Do For Money: Some Joint Ventures”, the festival will be presenting some thirty productions made by linking a known artist and an individual outside the world of art with a skill from another domain. We thus find Maurizio Cattelan teaming up with a Paralympian athlete, Marguerite Humeau with robotics engineers, and Shelly Nadashi with a literature professor. Meanwhile, Michel Houellebecq has decided to join forces with a physicist to offer festival visitors a health check-up. Finally, the Cabaret Voltaire will be transformed into a guildhall for artists, with an office-like interior and a new plastic bay window on the building’s façade. German artist Christian Jankowski has been appointed the general curator for this 11th edition of...

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The Cabaret Voltaire needs $13 million

According to The Art Newspaper, the Cabaret Voltaire in Zurich, founded by Hugo Ball and Emmy Hennings and birthplace of the Dada movement exactly a century ago, is looking for $13 million in financial support. Recently, the Swatch group withdrew its financial support to the institution — around $303,000 per year. And now, the right-wing UDC party wishes to put an end to public grants worth about $318,000 per year — since 2004, the Cabaret has reopened as a cultural space financed by the municipality. But according to the Cabaret’s director Adrian Notz: “It would be good to transform the Cabaret Voltaire into a centre for artists to manage the place and give it a more international dimension. This, however, is only possible if Swiss Life, the building’s owner, is willing to sell.” This does not seem to be on the cards for the insurance group that has made the following reply: “We can understand that (Cabaret Voltaire) is inspiring creative ideas during its centenary year. Nevertheless, we will not be drawn into speculations of this type.” Is history turning around? In 2002, a project to transform the venue into an upper-end residence roused various reactions. A group claiming neo-Dada origins decided to occupy the space to curb the real-estate...

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100 years of dada

On 5 February 2016, Dada turned one hundred! This is an opportunity for Art Media Agency to go back to the genesis of this movement that founded contemporary art and to present the events being organised to pay it homage. February 1916. Europe was war-torn. The barbarism sparked by quarrels dating back hundreds of years was causing bloodshed among men, threatening their societies and their ideals. In the press the same thing could be heard every day: a flow of deathly news, barely softened by the worn filter of propaganda. Away from the torment of a war that they had not chosen, a group of adolescents, or rather young adults, chose to turn their backs on the overriding moroseness and horror. They would meet up at the Cabaret Voltaire, set up by director Hugo Ball and his partner Emmy Hennings, a dancer, poet and author. The couple would invite young artists residing in Zurich to take part in shows at their Cabaret, and they all replied present: Tristan Tzara, aged 20 years in 1916, Hans Richter, 28 years, Richard Huelsenbeck, 24 years, Marcel Janco, 21 years, or Jean Arp, the eldest at 30 years. All came from relatively well-off, if not bourgeois backgrounds. They were cultivated but they saw the energy of their youth being sacrificed by this never-ending war. The wastage was something that they did not wish for. On 8 February, Tristan Tzara was leafing through a Larousse dictionary with a paper-cutter, and by chance opened it up at the word “dada”. He was troubled and fascinated by this term close to onomatopoeia – so simple, so childlike, and above all, so universal. For “Dada” designates, in French, a hobbyhorse (literally, or else in the sense of an obsessive idea); in English, it is a term for...

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Death of Gottfried Honegger (1917–2016)

Swiss artist and collector Gottfried Honegger passed away on 17 January 2016 in his birth city of Zurich. An advertiser by training, Gottfried Honegger truly turned to art in the 1950s, through painting, after a trip to New York. In 1960, the Martha Jackson Gallery (New York) organised his first solo exhibition, and in 1964, he was exhibited at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. His painting draws close to concrete art, limiting forms and colours to the most minimal variations. He also practised sculpture, at times exploring monumental pieces, often in collaboration with architects and urban planners. Gottfried Honegger created the Espace d’Art Concret in Mouans-Sartoux in 1990. In 2000, he — along with his wife Sylbil Albers — bequeathed his abstract-art collection to the French State, today visible at...

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