Jan Both (1618/1622–1652) Südliche Landschaft mit See, 1642/1652. Kunst Museum Winterthur, Geschenk der Stiftung Jakob Briner. Foto: SIK-ISEA, 2018, Zürich, Jean-Pierre Kuhn

Italy has been a desired destination for artists since the Renaissance. the country, perceived as the cradle of the arts, has exerted a fascination on European artists. The Grand Tour was part of the programme for scientists, Politicians and poets of the Enlightenment.

In addition to the admiration for antiquity and Italian art, it was also the longing for the south as the epitome of freedom and harmony of art and life in utopian Arcadia.

In the 20th century, this perspective changed: the Grand Tour gave way to mass tourism. The two World Wars led to a critical examination of Italian history. The idealised destination gave way to a more realistic view.

The exhibition Italia between Longing and Mass Tourism (Italia zwischen Sehnsucht und Massatourismus) traces the journeys south of renowned artists ranging from Claude Lorrain and Jan Both, Joseph Anton Koch, Carl Blechen, Arnold Böcklin, Anselm Feuerbach to contemporary artists.

The second exhibition in another part of the Kunst Museum presents Arte Povera works by Italian artists compared to German artists. This show is titled Nord-South (Nord-Süd). 

From the 1950s, Arte Povera questioned Italy with a new, different approach. The country was now reflected upon from within. Italian artists Lucio Fontana, Mario Merz, Marisa Merz, Luciano Fabro  and others and works by Gerhard Richter, Imi Knoebel und Isa Genzken are on show.

The third exhibition Di passagio in Reinhart am Stadtgarten presents the splendid art of Italian portrait miniatures.