The exhibition and the preceding series of events take up the debate on climate change. Historical and contemporary, with art from the 18th century to the present.

Nature protection and sustainability

‘Earth Beats’ is an artists’ plea to preserve the Earth and its natural resources, born out of the urgency of the present situation. Nature, in the form of landscape painting, is firmly embedded in art history. In works from earlier centuries we generally encounter it as idyllic scenery, but since the 1970s it has been depicted with ever greater clarity as an entity threatened by human intervention and at the same time deserving of protection. What do we see in a moorland landscape by Robert Zünd that the artist himself did not? And do we appreciate the documentary value of a colour painting of a glacier from a time before photography?

Tony Cragg, The Green Leaf, 1983, Kunsthaus Zürich, Vereinigung Zürcher Kunstfreunde, Gruppe Junge Kunst, 1988, © 2021, ProLitteris, Zurich
Cornelia Hesse-Honegger, Scentless Plant Bug from Würenlingen, Canton Aargau, across from the Paul Scherrer Institut, 1989, © 2021, ProLitteris, Zurich
Albert Renger-Patzsch, Duisburg, cows at the mouth of the Ruhr, ca 1936, Museum Folkwang, Essen, © Albert Renger-Patzsch/Archiv Ann und Jürgen Wilde, Zülpich / 2021, ProLitteris, Zurich
Ana Mendieta, Silueta de Arena, 1978, © The Estate of Ana Mendieta Collection LLC Courtesy/Galerie Lelong & Co. / 2021, ProLitteris, Zurich
Fischli / Weiss, Airport (Panam), 1989, Kunsthaus Zürich, Vereinigung Zürcher Kunstfreunde, Gruppe Junge Kunst, 1989, © Peter Fischli und David Weiss
Vaughn Bell, Village Green, 2021, Courtesy of CCK Buenos Aires, © 2021 ProLitteris, Zurich
Robert Zünd, Edge of the woods with flock of sheep, 1896–1897, Kunsthaus Zürich, Donated by Mr. and Mrs. Dürler-Tobler, 1940

The exhibition explores artists’ engagement with the ‘Blue Planet’ and its vulnerability. It considers both the history of ideas and future scenarios for the sustainable use of natural resources. On show are some 120 works by Lothar Baumgarten, Vaughn Bell, Bernd und Hilla Becher, Joseph Beuys, Ursula Biemann, Nomin Bold, Laurence Bonvin, Herbert Brandl, Julian Charrière, Edward Theodore Compton, Gustave Courbet, Tony Cragg, Buby Durini, Thomas Fearnley, Peter Fischli David Weiss, Francesca Gabbiani, Ludwig Hess, Cornelia Hesse-Honegger, Ferdinand Hodler, Anna Jermolaewa, Ruth Kaaserer, Mikhail Karikis & Uriel Orlow, Armin Linke & Giulia Bruno & Giuseppe Ielasi, Richard Long, Marcus Maeder, Maurice Maggi, Ana Mendieta, Conrad Meyer, Johann Heinrich Meyer, Otto Morach, Harald Naegeli, Walter Niedermayr, Katie Paterson, Albert Renger-Patzsch, Oliver Ressler, Germaine Richier, Ed Ruscha, David Shrigley, Jules Spinatsch, Johann Gottfried Steffan, Annelies Štrba, Thomas Struth, Vivian Suter, Félix Vallotton, Auguste Veillon, Hans Beat Wieland, Caspar Wolf, Robert Zünd.

Earth Talks – event series

In the lead-up to the exhibition, the Kunsthaus staged a series of interdisciplinary events entitled ‘Earth Talks'. Well-known international figures from the fields of climate research, forestry, business, urban planning, mobility research, technology and philosophy as well as activists from the worlds of film and literature debated issues of nature protection and sustainability. The focus is on knowledge production and the development of concrete solutions, with the audience also getting involved as the events were live streamed.

Earth Talks livestreams replay

7 Videos

100 Min


What's at stake - talk with experts

79 Min


Oszilot – experimental sound worlds

101 Min


Green Living – talk with experts

89 Min


The Climate Quartet – talk with bestselling author

106 Min


Intelligent nature and indigenous knowledge – talk with experts

75 Min


The Great Green Wall – talk before the film premiere

0 Min


Economic crises and outlooks – talk with experts

Curators Sandra Gianfreda and Cathérine Hug have combined works from the Kunsthaus Collection with loans centred around the themes of earth, air, water and fire to create an associative itinerary that takes in not just the Chipperfield building at the Kunsthaus but also the passage adorned with art by Olafur Eliasson, before delving into the heart of the Moser complex with Joseph Beuys’s ‘Olivestone’ in the Müller building and ending in a ‘glacier room’.

‘Earth Beats’ is supported by Swiss Re – Partner for contemporary art and the Tarbaca Indigo Foundation; ‘Earth Talks’ by the D&K DubachKeller Foundation and the Dr. Georg and Josi Guggenheim Foundation.

Ill: Francesca Gabbiani, Mutation V (c), 2020, Courtesy of the artist, Innen Space Zurich, and Monica de Cardenas Gallery, © Francesca Gabbiani

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