2nd Swiss Open-Air Sculpture Exhibition Biel

Marcel Joray

Swiss Sculpture in 1958

The 1st Swiss Open-Air Sculpture Exhibition (1. Schweizerische Plastikausstellung im Freien) took place in Biel-Bienne in 1954. Despite a predominance of contemporary works, it was also a retrospective, a summary overview of sculptural art in our country across the past twenty or thirty years. The earliest works, created by Carl Burckhardt, even dated back to the years of 1901 to 1916. 

The 2nd Exhibition of 1958 intends to present an overview of current sculpture. With a few exceptions, only works have been accepted that were created from 1954 to 1958.
It was our wish to make an impartial selection of the best works, regardless of their style. The jury consisted of four sculptors – two each to represent figurative and abstract art, respectively.
Any sculptor of Swiss nationality or resident in Switzerland was entitled to submit his work.
The jury personally invited sixteen figurative and abstract artists, in equal numbers. However, they also had to submit their works to the jury's assessment. In all, one hundred and thirty tons of sculptures created by over one hundred artists converged in Biel; the jury proceeded to select one hundred and twenty-nine works by sixty-four artists. 

This overview of contemporary sculpture in Switzerland presents monumental works; the regulations excluded works with a maximum diameter of less than sixty centimetres from the competition. Hence, there are almost no busts or figurines.
An inevitable problem is that of integrating the works into a whole: the forms designed by the artist must harmonise with the surrounding architecture. A work of art must be created according to its destination – the cathedral of Reims exudes a different spirit than a sober concrete building of the present era. The twentieth-century artist must and wants to be a child of his time; he shall have new things to say and cannot compare himself with a thirteenth-century statuary. It is therefore not surprising that our exhibition contains predominantly non-figurative forms; abstract art is characteristic of our times, and complements our architecture.
Abstract art has also become fashionable. However, it is not related to present events alone. Nor is it the only valid means of expression: figurative sculpture also attempts to venture into new ground to remain current. Several of the submitted works bear eloquent witness to this spirit. 

Now we would like to invite the visitor to express himself; specialists and laymen may take the floor; voices for and against will be heard at the round-table. May he who will sneer at today's art linger for a while and open his eyes. He will become aware that modern sculptures contain a truth that each one of us must rediscover for himself. 

It is the mission of modern sculpture to seek for the absolute truth, which probably is an attainable goal. Reality, however, changes its face to each generation and so art must follow life in its continuous evolution. As he continuously renews his interpretation of the world, the viewer has to find his bearings and if he is of a conformist disposition, the impartiality and empathetic effort required will not come naturally to him. 

In the short period of four years a considerable number of monumental works has been created by the artists of this small country. It is a resounding defiance of all those who predicted the agony of sculpture. On the contrary, it embodies a wealth of artistic inspiration. Many of our artists deserve our attention; some have enjoyed an international reputation. May our exhibition contribute to giving contemporary art the place it deserves yet must all too often defend against art from bygone times.
Dr. Marcel Joray
© Translation from German, July 2008: Margret Powell-Joss




  • Construction mobile, Linck Walter, expo 1958
    Construction mobile
  • Vénus, Perrin Léon, expo 1958
    Vénus
  • Acrobata caduto, Rossi Remo, expo 1958
    Acrobata caduto
  • Figure anthropomorphe (bas-relief), Brignoni Serge, expo 1958
    Figure anthropomorphe (bas-relief)
  • Femme-cuillère, Giacometti Alberto, expo 1958
    Femme-cuillère
  • Winzer, Fueter Max, expo 1958
    Winzer
  • Totentanz, Nauer Joseph, expo 1958
    Totentanz
  • Drachen, Germann-Jahn Charlotte, expo 1958
    Drachen
  • Les Eléments en liberté, Kemeny Zoltan, expo 1958
    Les Eléments en liberté
  • Femme au poisson, Malbin Ursula, expo 1958
    Femme au poisson
  • Mutter und Kind, Saegesser Marguerite, expo 1958
    Mutter und Kind
  • Studie zu H.Dunant-Denkmal, Wyss Josef, expo 1958
    Studie zu H.Dunant-Denkmal
  • Trommler, Brem Rolf, expo 1958
    Trommler
  • Nudo, Selmoni Pierino, expo 1958
    Nudo
  • Die Schatten, D'Altri Arnold, expo 1958
    Die Schatten
  • Bas-relief-spirale, Gigon André, expo 1958
    Bas-relief-spirale
  • Garçon et jeune fille, Bianchi Paul, expo 1958
    Garçon et jeune fille
  • Donna al fiume, Russo Giudici Irma, expo 1958
    Donna al fiume
  • Ours, Huggler Arnold, expo 1958
    Ours
  • Agression (Entwurf), Luginbühl Bernhard, expo 1958
    Agression (Entwurf)
  • Modell für Plastik am Züricher Kantonsspital, Fischer Franz, expo 1958
    Modell für Plastik am Züricher Kantonsspital
  • Coq, Wiggli Oskar, expo 1958
    Coq
  • Femme debout, Schwarz Heinz, expo 1958
    Femme debout
  • Kauernde, Bär Werner, expo 1958
    Kauernde
  • Idole, Schoop Ueli, expo 1958
    Idole
  • Pomone, Bänninger Otto, expo 1958
    Pomone
  • Barbarische Venus, Weiss Max, expo 1958
    Barbarische Venus
  • Tierherde (Relief), Purtschert Franz, expo 1958
    Tierherde (Relief)
  • Schreitendes Mädchen, Spoerri Daniel, expo 1958
    Schreitendes Mädchen
  • Pierrot, Suter Ernst, expo 1958
    Pierrot
  • Skulptur III, Leiser Willy, expo 1958
    Skulptur III
  • Composition C-7, Grossert Michaël, expo 1958
    Composition C-7
  • Eurythmie, Ramseyer André, expo 1958
    Eurythmie
  • Falter, Lienhard Robert, expo 1958
    Falter
  • Jemand, Häfelfinger Eugen, expo 1958
    Jemand
  • Orphée, Conne Louis, expo 1958
    Orphée
  • Totem, Gisiger Hansjörg, expo 1958
    Totem
  • VII-57, Zürcher Arnold, expo 1958
    VII-57
  • Couple, Presset Henri, expo 1958
    Couple
  • Relief, Vögeli Walter, expo 1958
    Relief
  • Reiter zu Pferd, Keller Gottfried, expo 1958
    Reiter zu Pferd
  • Spiel ovaler Formen im Raum, Witschi Werner, expo 1958
    Spiel ovaler Formen im Raum
  • Komposition mit Jäger, Stanzani Emilio, expo 1958
    Komposition mit Jäger
  • Ovale, von Reitzenstein Vera, expo 1958
    Ovale
  • La mer, Affolter André (Condé), expo 1958
    La mer
  • Überleitung, Bill Max, expo 1958
    Überleitung
  • Eisenplastik, Bodmer Walter, expo 1958
    Eisenplastik
  • Mutter und Kind, Geissberger Hans, expo 1958
    Mutter und Kind
  • Einradfahrerin, Hess Hildi, expo 1958
    Einradfahrerin
  • Figur I, Aeschbacher Hans, expo 1958
    Figur I
  • Sitzende, Stürchler Albert, expo 1958
    Sitzende
  • Skulptur III, Weisskopf Adolf, expo 1958
    Skulptur III
  • Forme aux multiples pointes, Ponçet Antoine, expo 1958
    Forme aux multiples pointes
  • Torse, Gsell-Heer Margrit, expo 1958
    Torse
  • Pane e vino, Speck Paul, expo 1958
    Pane e vino
  • Stehendes Mädchen, Bär Nelly, expo 1958
    Stehendes Mädchen
  • Krebs, Suter Paul, expo 1958
    Krebs
  • Mädchensekundarschule, Hubacher Hermann, expo 1958
    Mädchensekundarschule
  • Lichtschale (Lichtplastik), Rehmann Erwin, expo 1958
    Lichtschale (Lichtplastik)
  • Le Nœud, Müller Robert, expo 1958
    Le Nœud
  • Die Ackerdistel, Gürtler Walter, expo 1958
    Die Ackerdistel
  • Femme à la cruche, Emile Angéloz, expo 1958
    Femme à la cruche
  • Nénufar, Koch Ödon, expo 1958
    Nénufar