The 1920s were a decade of both progression and backlash. A catastrophic world war followed by a pandemic with remarkable parallels to the current corona crisis awakened people’s thirst for life. At no time in the 20th century was the desire for change more intense.

Theodore Lux Feininger, Xanti Schawinsky, Untitled, around 1927, Private collection, © The Estate of Theodore Lux Feininger, The Xanti Schawinsky Estate
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Shirana Shahbazi / Wolfensberger lithographic press, Composition with Mountain, 2014, Kunsthaus Zürich, © Shirana Shahbazi
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Félix Vallotton, Woman with Powder, 1921, Private collection
Elli Marcus, Valeska Gert: Ballet parody in tulle dress, around 1930, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Kunstbibliothek, © bpk / Kunstbibliothek, SMB / Elli Marcus
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Ernest Neuschul, Takka-Takka dances, 1926, Private collection © The Estate of Ernest Neuschul
László Moholy-Nagy, LIS, 1922, Kunsthaus Zürich, 1981

From Josephine Baker to Thomas Ruff


CHF 23.–/18.– (concessions and groups)
Free admission for members and children and young people under the age of 17. Tip : Senior (AHV) discounts every Wednesday


Urban visions were created and cities grew at breakneck speed. Conventional role models in society and marriage were questioned and upended; disadvantaged and oppressed minorities made their voices heard in politics and culture[GS1] . Improved conditions for workers went hand in hand with a growing leisure industry. The spirit of innovation fed through directly into art, with experimentation in all disciplines. Remarkably, none of its products have lost any of their relevance.

Unlike many exhibitions devoted to the 1920s, this presentation does not examine movements such as Bauhaus, Dada, New Objectivity or the design and architecture icons of modernism in isolation, but instead places them in dialogue, shedding light on the stylistic heterogeneity typical of those transformative years.

Note for groups

We look forward to welcoming you to the Kunsthaus. For organizational reasons, prior registration is required., +41 44 253 84 84

Focusing on Berlin, Paris, Vienna and Zurich, the exhibition incorporates all the prevalent media of the time, from painting, sculpture and drawing to photography, film and collage. It also offers a platform to less-known figures, notably women. Contemporary artists Kader Attia, Marc Bauer, Laura Gerlach, Raphael Hefti, Rashid Johnson, Fabian Marti, Alexandra Navratil, Trevor Paglen, Nicolas Party, Thomas Ruff, Shirana Shahbazi, Veronika Spierenburg and Rita Vitorelli, who explicitly engage with the formal language and themes of the 1920s, bridge the gap to the present day. Marc Bauer, Veronika Spierenburg and Rita Vitorelli have produced new works specially for the exhibition.

With contributions from, among others, Josef Albers, Hans Arp, Kader Attia, Johannes Baargeld, Josephine Baker, Marc Bauer, Erwin Blumenfeld, Constantin Brancusi, André Breton, Marcel Breuer, Suse Byk, Coco Chanel, Adolf Dietrich, Dodo, Theo van Doesburg, Marcel Duchamp, Max Ernst, Theodore Lux Feininger, Hans Finsler, Laura Gerlach, Valeska Gert, Barthel Gilles, George Grosz, Raphael Hefti, Heinrich Hoerle, René Herbst, Hannah Höch, Karl Hubbuch, Pierre Jeanneret, Rashid Johnson, Wassily Kandinsky, Elisabeth Karlinsky, Paul Klee, Rudolf von Laban, Laura Gerlach, Le Corbusier, Fernand Léger, Jeanne Mammen, Elli Marcus, Fabian Marti, László Moholy-Nagy, Lucia Moholy, Piet Mondrian, Alexandra Navratil, Trevor Paglen, Gret Palucca, Nicolas Party, Charlotte Perriand, Suzanne Perrottet, Paul Poiret, Man Ray, Hans Richter, Gerrit T. Rietveld, Vitorelli Rita (supported by: Bundesministerium Kunst, Kultur, öffentlicher Dienst und Sport, Österreich), Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Thomas Ruff, Christian Schad, Xanti Schawinsky, Wilhelm Schnarrenberger, Kurt Schwitters, Shirana Shahbazi, Veronika Spierenburg, Varvara Stepanova, Niklaus Stoecklin, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Rzn Torbey, My Ullmann, Félix Vallotton, Madeleine Vionnet and Nikolai Wassilieff.

The exhibition travels to the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao after it closes in Zurich.

A co-production with the Festspiele Zürich

Curator: Cathérine Hug


Image above: Shirana Shahbazi, Diver-02-2011, Kunsthaus Zürich, Photocollection, Vereinigung Zürcher Kunstfreunde, Gruppe Junge Kunst, 2015



The exhibition is accompanied by a 272-page publication from Snoeck-Verlag containing 260 illustrations and new articles by Cathérine Hug, Petra Joos, Gioia Mori, Jakob Tanner and Alexis Schwarzenbach. It is available now from our online shop, or from the Kunsthaus shop and bookstores when the exhibition opens, price CHF 44.

Text by Jakob Tanner: German PDF excerpt


Roaring Twenties Ball

In Autumn/Winter 2020, it’s party time at the Kunsthaus as we celebrate the Roaring Twenties with icons from the period. So if you’ve ever fancied dancing the Charleston or dressing up as a flapper or a gangster, now’s your chance! We’ll have a ballroom specially decked out for the occasion along with bars, a big garden lounge, DJs and live acts.

The exact date will be communicated in good time on our website and the media.

Supported by: UNIQA Kunstversicherung Schweiz, Helvetia Versicherungen, AccurArt, Welti-Furrer Fine Art AG, Haas & Co AG, Hensler Malerarbeiten und MÖBEL-TRANSPORT AG.


All events are expected to be rescheduled. The new dates will be announced here as soon as possible.

Today, as disruptive innovations challenge existing standards and artists position themselves as activists, the time is ripe to revisit the 1920s. This is reflected in a wide-ranging accompanying programme that opens up discussion on the social and economic issues of today.

Public guided tours

Every Wednesday at 6 p.m., Sunday at 11 a.m.

Re:Frame 20s

Students from the Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK) offer their own topical visual responses to the works in the exhibition. Introduction: Prof. Katharina Tietze, ZHdK, with Cathérine Hug. The results of this online teaching session will also be available online.

From idea to exhibition

Kunsthaus curator Cathérine Hug and Christoph Stuehn discuss the background and genesis of the exhibition. Free with a valid exhibition ticket and for members, otherwise CHF 10 / CHF 8 (concessions).

Spoken Beats with Jurczok 1001

With new texts by the internationally renowned spoken beat artist Jurczok 1001 based on the 1920s writers Marieluise Fleisser and Bertolt Brecht. Free with an exhibition ticket.

New bodily sensations – sexuality and the intoxication of movement and music

Part of Zurich Art Weekend: dialogue guided tour with Salome Hohl, Director of Cabaret Voltaire, and Kunsthaus curator Cathérine Hug. Art performance by Talaya Schmid and Angie Walti. Free with an exhibition ticket.

1920s/2020s – economic crises and perspectives

With Aymo Brunetti (Professor of Economic Policy and Regional Economics, Bern University), Walter B. Kielholz (Chairman of Swiss Re / Chairman of the Zürcher Kunstgesellschaft), and Christin Severin (economics editor at the NZZ) and other guests. Free with a valid exhibition ticket and for members, otherwise CHF 15 / CHF 10 (concessions).

Guided tours / workshops for schools / art laboratory / family day

Public guided tours in German take place on Wednesdays at 6 p.m. and Sundays at 11 a.m. Individual private guided tours can be arranged. The Kunsthaus organizes workshops for schools on request. The art laboratory is open to all exhibition visitors without extra charge. Materials and ideas for your own personal creations will be provided. Further details of the family day will be available once the exhibition opens.

As part of:

Exhibition supported by: