What image represents Europe? The fall of the Berlin Wall, perhaps, and the unification of Eastern and Western Europe after four decades of division along ideological lines? The reconstruction and the economic miracle following the disaster of the Second World War? Universal human rights and a political consensus among Europeans based on freedom and democracy? Or football championships and the Eurovision Song Contest? Not since Antiquity has a single image stood for Europe, and any that purports to do so can only be a fragment. Europe is a multifaceted mosaic that, despite tensions beneath the surface, is no longer at risk of breaking apart.
In 1924 Ernst Ludwig Kirchner posed the question: ‘A unified Europe would be the end of wars and it will come, but when?’ This exhibition sets out to chart the various forms in which society’s ongoing desire for a peaceful Europe has been depicted through the history of ideas. It takes in atmospheric themes such as the delineation and dissolution of frontiers, landscape as a factor in the construction of identity, the development of democracy, labour and mobility.
The most comprehensive art exhibition on Europe in Switzerland since 1991 comprises some 100 works by 50 artists from all parts of the continent, in the media of painting, photography, video and installation. The artists represented include Kader Attia, Marc Bauer, Arnold Böcklin, Herbert Brandl, Honoré Daumier, Fischli/Weiss, Dani Gal, Ferdinand Hodler, Thomas Imbach, Anna Jermolaewa, Ilya & Emilia Kabakov, Nikita Kadan, Bouchra Khalili, Paul Klee, Daniel Knorr, Christian Philipp Müller, Cy Twombly and Nives Widauer.