Urs Lüthi

Year of birth, place
1947, Lucerne, Switzerland
Role at the ZKM
in the collection
Urs Lüthi was born in Lucerne in 1947. Since 1994 he has been a professor in the Art Department of the Gesamthochschule, Kassel. He lives in Munich.

Lüthi's work is characterized by both variety and abrupt shifts of direction - be it in terms of materials, techniques or style. Lüthi is a self-taught artist. His work as both painter and creator of objects had already attracted attention by the mid-1960s. At the end of that decade, however, he stopped painting altogether and began working exclusively as a photographer. Using black-and-white film, he created series of self-portraits in which he adopted excentric, narcissistic poses. He thus acquired a reputation as an exponent of body art. During the 1970s and early 1980s he produced large coloured photographs, with staged tableaux of figures and objects. In the course of the 1980s, however, such works assumed a marked conceptual element. The images also became more incisive and (in every sense) more technically polished. Lüthi's photographic subjects now embraced landscape as well as self-portraits. During the 1980s he also produced installations and series of objects. Concepts and symbols were juxtaposed in mixed-media ensembles and compellingly reordered by reference to a reduced geometrical language of form. As photographic self-portraits disappeared from his oeuvre, towards the end of the 1980s, they were effectively replaced by casts of the artist's own, bald head. These were sometimes placed on concrete pedestals, as in the case of »From the Series of Universal Order (Aus der Serie der universellen Ordnung)« of 1989-90 or turning on their axes on wall brackets, as in »Still-life from the Series of Universal Order (Nature Morte, aus der Serie der universellen Ordnung)« of 1991. Most of these heads were, in addition, displayed alongside large pictures in elaborate and perfectly executed frames. In the series »Placebos & Surrogates« of 1996 combinations of word and image, reminiscent of a poster, are presented as wall objects behind plexi-glass and juxtaposed with objects and with partially transparent casts of heads incorporating small, solid, indeterminate coloured objects.

Individual exhibitions (selection)
1966 Galerie Beat Mäder, Berne
1969 Galerie Junge Generation, Hamburg
1973 Galerie nächst St. Stephan, Vienna
1975 Neue Galerie im Landesmuseum Joanneum, Graz; Musée d'Art et d'Histoire, Geneva
1976 Kunsthalle, Basle
1978 Museum Folkwang, Essen
1981 Kunstmuseum, Berne
1983 Wilhelm-Hack-Museum, Ludwigshafen
1986 Kunstmuseum Winterthur
1987 Kunstverein, Munich
1989 Kunstforum, Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Munich
1990 Kasseler Kunstverein, Kassel
1993 Bonner Kunstverein, Bonn
1994 Aargauer Kunsthaus, Aarau; Freiburger Kunstverein, Freiburg
1995 Museum Wiesbaden
1996 Galerie Tanit, Munich; Galerie Blancpain-Stepczynski, Geneva
1997 arco di rab-Gallery, Rome; Galerie Sollertis, Toulouse; The Nordic House, Reykjavik
Groupe exhibitions (selection)
1966 »Züricher Künstler«, Helmhaus, Zürich
1970 »Visualisierte Denkprozesse«, Kunstmuseum, Lucerne
1974 »Transformer«, Kunstmuseum, Lucerne, subsequently at Kunstmuseum Bochum
1975 »Körpersprache«, Haus am Waldsee, Berlin, subsequently at Frankfurter Kunstverein, Frankfurt/M
1977 documenta VI, Kassel
1978 The Biennale of Sydney, The Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney
1981 »Westkunst«, Museen der Stadt Köln, Cologne
1983 »Kunst mit Photographie«, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Preußischer Kulturbesitz, Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin, subsequently at Kunstverein, Cologne
1988 »Zurück zur Natur, aber wie?«, Städtische Galerie im Prinz-Max-Palais, Karlsruhe
1989 »2000 Jahre, die Gegenwart der Vergangenheit«, Bonner Kunstverein, Bonn; »L'invention d'un Art«, Musée National d'Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris
1990 »Blau - Farbe der Ferne«, Heidelberger Kunstverein, Heidelberg
1992 »Manifeste«, Musée National d'Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris
1993 »„He is looking at me." Autoportraits Contemporaines«, ELAC, Lyon; »Sprung in die Zeit«, Berlinische Galerie, Museum für Moderne Kunst, Photographie und Architektur, Berlin; Hotel Carlton Palace, Chambre 763 (Organisation Hans-Ulrich Obrist), Paris
1995 »fémininmasculin: Le sexe de l'art«, Musée National d'Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris
1996 »KünstlerProfessorInnen«, Kasseler Kunstverein, Kassel; »Autoreverse«, MAGASIN, Centre National d'Art Contemporain, Grenoble; »paar mal Paar«, Helmhaus, Zürich; »Im Kunstlicht«, Kunsthaus Zürich; »Un certain sourire«, Windows, Brussels
1997 »foto text text foto«, Museion, Museum für moderne Kunst, Bozen, subsequently at Frankfurter Kunstverein, Frankfurt/M, Fotomuseum Winterthur; »Geschlossene Gesellschaft«, Graphische Sammlung der ETH, Zürich

​[Frauke Syamken, 1997]