This collection presentation focuses on the exploration of new artistic avenues in photography during the 1970s and 1980s, both in Switzerland and internationally. The old concept of craftsmanship came up against new artistic ideas.

From a tool of depiction to art

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Photography and its reception changed significantly in the 1970s and 1980s. The classical reportage photography of previous decades had run its course, and artists moved in to inspire the scene. A stylistic pluralism emerged; and as photography was disseminated by newly established publishers and galleries, it soon came to the attention of art museums.

Including 30 works from the photo collection of the Kunsthaus Zürich together with a number of items on loan, the exhibition showcases these visual, conceptual and structural innovations in photography.

Walter Pfeiffer, Untitled. From the series «Walter Pfeiffer 1970–1980», 1970/1980, Kunsthaus Zürich, 1999, © 2019 ProLitteris, Zurich
Dan Graham, House with Greek Columns... / Family at Leisure, 1978; 1969, Kunsthaus Zürich, 1996, © Dan Graham
Fischli / Weiss, In den Bergen, 1979, Kunsthaus Zürich, Vereinigung Zürcher Kunstfreunde, Gruppe Junge Kunst, 1989, © Peter Fischli /David Weiss
Balthasar Burkhard, Arm, 1988, Kunsthaus Zürich, 1991, © Vida Burkhard
Dieter Meier, Jumps, 1974, Kunsthaus Zürich, 2012, © Dieter Meier
Candida Höfer, Zoologisches Museum Genf, 1989, Kunsthaus Zürich, Vereinigung Zürcher Kunstfreunde, Gruppe Junge Kunst, 1991, © 2019 ProLitteris, Zurich

Taking as its starting point the influences of conceptual art, minimalism and pop art of the 1960s, the exhibition includes works by early Swiss practitioners of artistic photography. Also represented are feminist and socially critical positions, Bohemian photographs, body studies and interiors from the intimacy to deserted public spaces.

Topics include ‘From conceptual photography to media art’, ‘Photographic explorations of the self’ and ‘Spaces/non-spaces of society’. They reflect a trend that encompasses every level – from production, through dissemination, to reception by an audience that, thanks to advances in technology, was now increasingly able to take its own photographs or obtain (moving) images quickly and cheaply.

Curator: Joachim Sieber


Image above:

David Hockney, Gregory & Shinro on the Train, 1983, Kunsthaus Zürich, © David Hockney

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