On the occasion of his 100th birthday the Museum zu Allerheiligen in Schaffhausen (Switzerland) dedicates a solo exhibition to the Swiss sculptor Hans Josephsohn (1920-2012). Under the title “Schauen ist das Wichtigste” (“Looking is the most important thing”) the museum shows works by Josephsohn from the 1950s to the 2000s.
The exhibition title “Looking is the most important thing” is a quotation by the artist. This statement is characteristic of Josephsohn’s work on several levels: On the one hand, it describes the constant visual search for the right shapes and volumes. On the other hand, it encourages viewers to remain open to Josephsohn’s works without prejudice.
Hans Josephsohn’s interest in sculpture was the human figure. He engaged with this subject with meticulous persistence over the course of sixty years. Josephsohn worked almost exclusively with plaster and subsequently had his sculptures mostly cast in brass. Working with plaster, a material that was somewhat frowned upon at the time, enabled Hans Josephsohn to work in a process-related, variable manner, in which both supplementation and removal of the material was possible. In the course of his artistic career he detached himself from figuration through increasing reduction and fragmentation.
In 1975 the Museum zu Allerheiligen organized one of the artist’s first institutional exhibitions. After gaining visibility over almost half a century, Josephsohn’s work will now once again be highlighted in Schaffhausen. The exhibition has been organized in collaboration with the Kesselhaus Josephsohn St. Gallen and curated by Julian Denzler.
Hans Josephsohn was born in 1920 in Königsberg (today’s Kaliningrad), East Prussia. Due to the rise of anti-Semitism in the Third Reich, Josephsohn first traveled to Florence in Italy in 1938 to study and then had to flee from there to Switzerland in 1939. He lived in Zurich until his death in 2012. When he arrived in Zurich in 1938 he became a student of the sculptor Otto Müller.
Hans Josephsohn’s works gained the attention of a larger audience at the end of the 1990s. In 2008, the MMK Museum für Moderne Kunst in Frankfurt/Main organized a large solo exhibition of Josephsohn’s works. In the years since 2000, Josephsohn’s work has increasingly been recognized internationally as a significant contribution to visual art.
Permanent installations of Hans Josephsohn’s works can be seen at the Museo La Congiunta in Giornico (Ticino, Switzerland), which was built by Peter Märkli and Stefan Bellwalder and opened in 1992. In 2003 the Kesselhaus Josephsohn in St. Gallen, Switzerland, opened, where a regularly alternating selection of works is presented. The Kesselhaus is also functioning as a storage and archive for Josephsohn’s works and it is located next to the Kunstgiesserei St. Gallen where Hans Josephsohn’s works are cast.
Hans Josephsohn. Schauen ist das Wichtigste. Solo Exhibition at Museum zu Allerheiligen Schaffhausen. Press Preview, September 2, 2020.
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