Hans Josephsohn

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Exhibition view Kesselhaus Josephsohn, St. Gallen (© Katalin Deér)
Hans Josephsohn, Standing figure, 1985 (© Katalin Deér)
Exhibition view Kesselhaus Josephsohn, St. Gallen (© Katalin Deér)
Exhibition view Arsenale, Biennale 2013, Venice (© Katalin Deér)
Ausstellungsansicht Yorkshire Sculpture Park, 2013 (© Katalin Deér)
Ausstellungsansicht Modern Art Oxford, 2013 (© Katalin Deér)

Hans Josephsohn (May 1920 - 20 August 2012) was a Swiss sculptor. He lived and worked in Zurich.

Josephsohn was born in Königsberg (today's Kaliningrad), East Prussia. Here he attended elementary school and completed high school in 1937. That same year, he left his homeland and moved to Florence with a small scholarship, in order to study art. Due to his Jewish ancestry, he had to leave Italy a short time later and fled to Switzerland. He arrived in Zurich in 1938 and became a student of the sculptor Otto Müller. In 1943 Josephsohn moved into his first atelier, and starting in 1964 began showing his works in various solo shows within Switzerland. He acquired Swiss citizenship in 1964. Josephsohn's works began to attract the attention of a larger audience at the end of the 1990s. The Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam dedicated a large solo exhibition to the artist in 2002. In 2003 Josephson received the art prize of Zurich. Various group and solo exhibitions followed this, among others in the Diözesanmuseum Kolumba in Cologne (2005) and in the Palais de Tokyo in Paris (2007). 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 regarded, also internationally, as a significant contribution to visual art.

Permanent installations of Hans Josephsohn's works can be seen at the museum La Congiunta in Tessin, 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. At the same time, the Kesselhaus is 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 is represented by the Galerie Felix Lehner and Hauser & Wirth.

On Hans Josephsohn's work[edit]

Josephsohn's sculptures focused on the human figure as a volume in space. From the beginning of his career he worked, from the model, on sculpture's most timeless, constant themes: Representations of the human figure, standing, sitting, reclining, working on portrait heads or half-figures, made in plaster, some then later, cast in bronze.

Josephsohn's figures are bereft of any portrait-like individualization. And they stand out for their simplicity, for their being limited to the simple postures of the human body. The wish for permanence plays a key role: "My figures must be enduring in their expression, in their stance", Josephsohn said, "A narrative gesture is out of the question". His works evoke prehistory, ancient stone steles and romanesque figures.

Josephsohn's favourite working material was plaster. He found it ideal - simply it permits directness and spontaneity, both of which where necessary for Josephsohn's working process. Plaster allowed him to repeatedly add material or take it away. The directness of the work process was reflected not only in the immense vitality of the figures but even more by the traces left by this process. For example, finger imprints remain on the surface, referencing the artist's hands as it seeks to mold the material.

His artistic examination of the human figure was influenced and determined by his own experience, which for him as an artist, shaped above all by his everyday work in the studio but also by the interpersonal relations in his life. He found his models in his own personal world: They were for the most part friends, relatives - almost always women, very often his own life partner. Real persons are the starting point of this work and search for forms but his works hardly ever had portrait-like character or individual traits. Thus, also for those who knew Josephsohn's models personally, when viewing the corresponding works there is little to remind one of the individuals.

Solo exhibitions (selection)[edit]

2015

Kunstparterre, München, Germany

2014

Kunstmuseum St. Gallen, Switzerland

Hauser & Wirth New York, USA

Ernst Barlach Haus, Hamburg, Germany

2013

Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Wakefield, UK

Modern Art Oxford, UK

2012

Hauser & Wirth, London (Piccadilly), UK

Lismore Castle Arts, Lismore, Ireland

2011

Tomio Koyama Gallery, Tokyo/Kyoto, Japan

2010

Hauser & Wirth Zürich, Zurich, Switzerland

2009

Armory Show, New York, USA

Hauser & Wirth Outdoor Sculpture: Hans Josephsohn, Southwood Gardens, London, UK

2008

Josephsohn Bildhauer, Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt/Main, Germany

Hauser & Wirth, London, UK

2007

Sculpture at Schönthal, Kloster Schönthal, Langenbruck, Switzerland

2006

Galerie Bob van Orsouw, Zurich, Switzerland

Peter Blum Gallery, New York NY, USA

2005

Museum Liner, Appenzell, Switzerland

Kolumba, Diözesanmuseum, Cologne, Germany

2004

Galerie Reckermann, Cologne, Germany

Kesselhaus Josephsohn, St. Gallen, Switzerland

Evangelische Stadtkirche, Darmstadt, Germany

2003

Museum Ostdeutsche Galerie, Regensburg, Germany

2002

Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, Netherlands

Galerie Bob van Orsouw, Zurich, Switzerland

2001

Haus der Kunst der Stadt Brünn, Brno, Czech Republic

2000

Galerie Bob van Orsouw, Zurich, Switzerland

1997

Helmhaus Zurich, Switzerland

1985

Stiftung Landis & Gyr, Zug, Switzerland

1981

Aargauer Kunsthaus, Aarau, Switzerland

1975

Museum zu Allerheiligen, Schaffhausen, Switzerland

1969

Galerie Daniel Keel, Zurich, Switzerland

1965

Kunsthalle Basel, Switzerland

1964

Helmhaus Zurich, Switzerland

1962

Galerie am Stadelhofen, Zurich, Switzerland

1956

Städtische Kunstkammer zum Strauhof, Zurich, Switzerland

Group exhibitions (selection)[edit]

2015

Substance, Galerie Laurent Godin, Paris

All back in the skull together, Maccarone Gallery, New York

ARTZUID – International Sculpture Route, Amsterdam

2014

Spatial Positions 8: Kooperationen. Diener&Diener in Zusammenarbeit mit Martin Steinmann und Josef Felix Müller / Peter Märkli und Josephsohn, Schweizerisches Architekturmuseum Basel, Switzerland

2013

Il Palazzo Enciclopedico, Biennale, Venice, Italy

MOVING – Norman Foster on Art, Carré d'Art – musée d'art contemporain, Nîmes, FR

Frauen – Liebe und Lebe, Lehmbruck Museum, Duisburg, DE

2012

The Spirit Level, Gladstone Gallery, New York NY, USA

Frieze Art Fair Sculpture Park 2012, Regent's Park, London, UK

Common Ground, Architecture Biennale Venice, Italy

Art and the City: Ein Festival für Kunst im öffentlichen Raum, Zurich-West, Switzerland

Säen, Ernten, Glücklich Sein, Art-Public Chur, Switzerland

2010

Head: A gathering of primitive, abstract, iconic, lumpen, powerful, playful, referential, reflective, layered, delirious, precious, beautiful, psychotic, grotesque, detached forms, The Approach, London, UK

ev+a. Exhibition of visual art, The Belltable Arts Centre, Limerick City Gallery of Art, Limerick, IR

2009

Visible Invisible, Parasol Unit Foundation of Contemporary Art, London, UK

ING Discerning Eye Exhibition, Mall Galleries, London, UK

2007

The Third Mind, Palais de Tokyo, Paris, France

Klaus Merz und die Bilder, Literaturmuseum Strauhof, Zurich, Switzerland

Hans Josephsohn und Marisa Merz, Galerie Buchmann, Lugano, Switzerland

2006

Die obere Hälfte - die Büste seit August Rodin, Museum Liner, Appenzell, Switzerland (Travelling Exhibition)

2005

Architektur + Kunst - Dialoge, Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna, Austria

2004

Mind the Gap, Kunstverein Freiburg, Germany

2003

G 2003, Mostra Internazionale di Scultura all’Aperto, Vira Gambarogno, Switzerland

2000

Der verlorene Blick, Galerie Lelong, Zurich, Switzerland

1999

Haus Bill, Zumikon, Switzerland

Gallery[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]