Baroque. An Age of Contrasts

Baroque is more than a matter of style. This cultural epoch, between 1580 and 1780, was a time of enormous contrasts: opulence and innovation on the one hand, death and crises on the other.

Ongoing religious wars and the opening up of global trade networks resulted in power gains and cultural exchange, but there was also famine and exploitation. Switzerland played its part in all this radical change: Swiss architects designed major works throughout Europe, Swiss artists and scientists were part of international networks, clothing and interiors reflected the culture of the French court, and the worldwide circulation of products and knowledge had life-changing impacts.

The exhibition presents beautiful objects from Baroque architecture, garden culture, fashion and art, focusing on the historical context of these items in order to illuminate this creative epoch in all its glorious ambiguity.

Niki de Saint Phalle

Niki de Saint Phalle, Nana Mosaïque Noire, 1999. Würth Collection. Foto/Photo: Archiv Würth, © 2022 Niki Charitable ArtFoundation, All rights reserved / ProLitteris,Zurich

Niki de Saint Phalle (1930–2002), a leading female artist of the 20th century, gained worldwide fame with her ‘Nanas’, which exemplify the seemingly carefree cheerfulness typically associated with the artist. Yet there is much more to her than that.

Her output is surprisingly multifaceted – eccentric, emotional, dark and brutal, humorous, enigmatic and often challenging. Its remarkably broad spectrum ranges from painting and drawing to assemblages, actions and large-format sculptures, and even theatre, film and architecture.

She was intensely concerned with social and political issues, challenging institutions and establishing societal roles in ways that give her work enduring and contemporary relevance.

With her legendary ‘Shooting Paintings’, created in provocative actions as far back as the 1960s, Niki de Saint Phalle made a pivotal contribution to the art of performance that is so topical today. Against this backdrop, retracing her artistic career casts a different light on many of her works, especially the ‘Nanas’ and the large installations in the public space.

The selection of works for this exhibition offers an insight into the complex and highly interesting career of this exceptional artist.

The Pastrymakers of Grisons

(Deutsch) George Kuhnt, Konditorei Barth & Cloetta, Breslau, c. 1854. Ausstellung 'Die Bünder Auswanderungsgeschichte von Zuckerbäckern'. Foto: TES.

Trade agreements between theRepublic of Venice and the Free State of the Three Leagues (Canton les Grisons or Graubünden since 1803)) allowed for free access to the republic of Venice and the right to exercise free trade.

New professions appeared, among them the pastry makers.
This profession comprised those of confiseur, cafetier, chocolatier, or beer brewer. They also produced liquors, lemonades, fizzy drinks, and almond products like marzipan. Venice exported its products across the alpine passes to Northern Europe.
Apart from trade, there were political and strategic concerns.

The Three Leagues, with their subjugated Italian-speaking territories Chiavenna, Valtellina and Bormio, formed a buffer zone between the republic of Venice, the Habsburg Empire, who were present in parts of Lombardy and Milan, Habsburg Spain and France. The agreements were regularly renewed.

In 1766 Venice cancelled the agreement, and the city-state expelled the Bündner (all those from the Grisons). After their expulsion, the pastry makers ventured all over Europe and later the New World. They often set up businesses in towns and villages. They were masters in their trade, enterprising, well organised, and willing to endure long and dangerous travels.

What has come down to later generations mainly concerns those who had been successful, such as the Redolfi and the Castelmur. This exhibition tells their fascinating history.