Bernhard Luginbühl, Untitled, Silkscreen on cloth, 94.5 × 62.5 cm, Edition of 60
Courtesy of Archivio Conz, Berlin
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  • Silkscreen on cloth
  • 94.5 × 62.5 cm
    (37 ¼ × 24 ⅝ inches)
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  • Bernhard Luginbühl was a Swiss artist mainly engaged in large-scale sculptures, as well as in drawings and engravings. He served an apprenticeship as a sculptor and attended the Kunstgewerbeschule (School of Arts and Crafts) in Bern. Luginbühl worked primarily on abstract sculptures, preferring forged iron as his main material. In the 1950s, he began building zoomorphic and organic objects from scrap metal collected from abandoned industrial facilities. He was granted a Swiss Art Award in 1950 and again in 1956. In 1957, he met Jean Tinguely: This marked the beginning of an intense friendship, characterized by mutual esteem and collaboration. Together, the two artists created works such as Le Cyclop (1970–88) and participated together in group exhibitions at the Kunsthalle Bern (1960) and the Centre Pompidou in Paris (1977), among others. Luginbühl’s sculptures often feature variations of similar characters, such as heroes, cyclops, or titans. Sculptures, such as the Grosser Zyklop 1968), Atlas (1970), and Kleiner Revolverheld (1986), are often sardonic, mythical creatures born of an industrial, fantastical imagination. Beginning in the mid-1970s, Luginbühl created his legendary incendiary installations. Massive wooden sculptures were set on fire, accompanied by fireworks and music, creating an astonishing spectacle. The first of these installations was ZORN I (1976), a protest demonstration directed against Swiss urban development, with the burning of Europe’s hitherto largest wooden figure. Other versions of Zorn were ignited in Linz (1978), Berlin (1981), and finally in Burgdorf (1983). Similarly, Silvester comprised a twenty-four-meter-long and ten-meter-high sculpture torched on Mount Gurten in Bern on the eve of the new millennium. The burning was broadcast worldwide. Luginbühl participated in several highly regarded expos and festivals, including the Expo ’67 in Montreal, the Japan World Exposition in Osaka in 1970, documenta 3 in Kassel in 1964, and documenta 6 in 1977. He has also been honored for his graphic drawings and engravings, which were exhibited in Berlin as part of the DAAD program (1980–81) and in Zurich at the ETH’s Collection of Prints and Drawings. Many of his sculptures have been installed in public locations in Zurich, Muttenz, Hamburg, and Luzern, among others. The town of Mötschwil, Switzerland, where the artist lived most of his life, is now the site of the Luginbühl Foundation Sculpture Park.

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