Kunsthaus Zürich

From bar to museum

In 1933 Max Ernst was commissioned to paint a mural for a wall in the Mascotte-Bar. Now as then, this bar is located on the first floor of the Corso Theater in Zürich.  During the summer months of 1934 Ernst painted the almost twenty-two square meter large “Pétales et jardin de la Nymphe Ancolie” directly onto the wall in the “al secco” technique.  The mural contributed greatly to the avant-garde atmosphere of the newly refurbished Mascotte-Bar.  After a further renovation into the New Orleans Style in 1955, the surreal Ernst mural no longer fit with the interior and was hidden behind a piece of sackcloth.  Toward the end of the 50s the painting was removed from the underlying plaster ground by means of the “strappo” technique and transferred on to eighteen block board panels, where it has remained until now.
The newly subdivided mural then found a home at the Kunsthaus – at first as a work on loan, until it was acquired in 1965 with the help of private financing.  For many years the mural was to be seen at the top of the stairway of the first floor, until, in 1976, it was hung in the large gallery of the historic Moser Building.  During the 2004 Kunsthaus renovation Ernst’s painting was relocated to the museum storage rooms after nearly forty years of uninterrupted viewing.

Corso-Haus at Bellevue in Zürich, 2007 Photo: Kerstin Mürer
Corso-Haus at Bellevue in Zürich, 2007
Photo: Kerstin Mürer