The Kunsthaus possesses an excellent collection of classic photographs. Amongst these are works by Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Frank, André Kertesz, Edward Steichen, Alfred Stieglitz and Paul Strand. This body of work however remains an exception in the Museum’s collection of photography which does not include any documentary work but is exclusively focused on visual artists working with photography: beginning with a renowned collection of photos, montages, collages, and photograms from the Dada and Surrealist periods, including major works by Max Ernst, Hannah Höch, Marcel Duchamp/Man Ray, Erwin Blumenfeld, Christian Schad, Wols and many others; noteworthy as well are 84 vintage prints by Constantin Brancusi, a donation “in memory of Carola Giedon-Welcker”. The Kunsthaus recently acquired an important group of very rare vintage photocollages and photosculptures by the Bauhaus artist Herbert Bayer, thanks to a gift from the Dr. Carlo Fleischmann Foundation.
The collection then mirrors the developments of the late sixties and seventies, when a great number of artists and various movements began using photography in new and different ways: performance art, body art, concept art, land art etc. Many of the major international figures of these movements (Acconci, B. and H.- Becher, Baumgarten, Boltanski, Christo, Graham, Long, Polke, Rainer, Roth) as well as most Swiss artists working with photography in the seventies and eighties are represented, several of them by a very large number of works. (Burkhard, Danuser, Fischli and Weiss, Lüthi, Signer, Strba, Voita, Wick)
In the nineties photography takes possession of space: format takes its cue from mural painting, and classical forms are overlaid by a broad spectrum of new techniques. Hybrid techniques dissolve the border between video, photographic, electronic and painted pictures. Sculptures employing techniques of photography, large transparencies in light boxes, multiple slide projections that appropriate space and installations presenting series of large format images intensify the spatial presence of photographic art. The Kunsthaus collection mirrors this development with works and groups by Bustamante, Cattelan, Gursky, Horsefield, Hubbard/Birchler, Orozco, Streuli, Struth, Wall, Wurm and many others.
An overview of the photographic collection can be found in the catalogue “Im Kunstlicht. Fotografie im 20. Jahrhundert aus den Sammlungen im Kunsthaus Zürich”, Zurich 1996.
It is possible to view photographs from the Collection. Prior registration is required.
CH 8024 Zürich
Tel.: +41 (0)44 253 84 84
Fax: +41 (0)44 253 84 33