The theme of this book is the dialogue between the human eye and the artwork, in which landscape sets the context. Ever since the publication of the essay Mort du paysage (1982), landscape has become one of the battlegrounds of contemporary debate. The philosopher Alain Roger’s thesis (Court traité du paysage, 1997) that “all landscape is a product of art” is developed here through the analysis of the works in the Valais Art Museum. Landscape as a topic concerns a conception of the world and a perspective on it that are underpinned by aesthetic, philosophical, and religious premises, as well as scientific, political, and social convictions.
Published to coincide with the opening of the new permanent exhibition at the Valais Art Museum, this book aims to provide a comprehensive overview of the museum’s extensive collections, especially the key role of the école de Savièse (Savièse School) and its link with contemporary art, the sublime in the Alps, landscape for the visually impaired, and the flights of fancy of Romantic art. The overriding theme, therefore, is the centrality of art in the creation of the concept of landscape in the West.
The art discussed is arranged in chronological order, beginning with works from the late eighteenth century, including paintings by the Swiss artist Caspar Wolf, a pioneer of Alpine painting, as well as other artists, such as Raphael Ritz, Marguerite Burnat-Provins, Ernest Biéler, Édouard Vallet, Angel Duarte, and Valentin Carron—all artists who in their different ways contributed to the artistic development of the canton of Valais.
The artists covered by the book are: Marina Abramović, Joëlle Allet, Cuno Amiet, René Auberjonois, Aimé Barraud, Alighiero and Boetti, Élisabeth Biéler, Ernest Biéler, Ursula Biemann, Edmond Bille, Roger Bissière, Marguerite Burnat-Provins, Valentin Carron, Gustave Castan, Maria Ceppi, Gustave Cerutti, Julian Charrière, Albert Chavaz, Catherine Contour, Sylvain Croci-Torti, Raphy Dallèves, François Diday, Angel Duarte, Equipo 57, Olivier Estoppey, Vincent Fournier, Matthieu Gafsou, Yann Gross, Michel Grillet, Charles-Louis Guigon, Nelly Haliti, Ferdinand Hodler, Alain Jacquet, JocJonJosch, Oskar Kokoschka, Verena Loewensberg, Walter Niedermayr, Charles-Clos Olsommer, Josée Pitteloud, André Ramseyer, Germaine Richier, Lorenz Justin Ritz, Raphael Ritz, Studer/van den Berg, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Robert Tanner, Wolfgang-Adam Toepffer, Gottfried Tritten, Pierre Vadi, Édouard Vallet, Félix Vallotton, Marie Velardi, Claude Viallat, Corinne Vionnet, Not Vital, Caspar Wolf, Andrea Wolfensberger, Nadja Wüthrich, Guy Zahler, André-Paul Zeller, and Mirza Zwissig.
Céline Eidenbenz is a curator and art historian. She is currently director of the Valais Art Museum in Sion, Switzerland. After completing her studies in Lausanne, Vienna, and Paris, she worked as an assistant lecturer at the Universities of Geneva and Lausanne (2007–15). In the latter city, she founded Le Cabanon, an exhibition space specifically designed to display contemporary art. In 2012, she used her PhD thesis as the basis for an exhibition about hysteria at the Félicien Rops Museum in Namur, Belgium. In 2016, she transformed the display of the Valais Art Museum’s collection with Looking at the Landscape, which assembled artworks and objects from different periods and all manner of media. In 2017, she curated the exhibition Let’s Walk, Take a Step, Take a Stand in Le Pénitencier (the former prison building) of Sion, combining contemporary art with local creations and the Museum’s alpine environment. Céline Eidenbenz was invited by Pro Helvetia, the Swiss Arts Council, to take charge of the Salon Suisse’s program at the 2019 Venice Biennale.