URS LÜTHI - ART IS THE BETTER LIFE
Duration: 04 July - 27 September 2009
Artist: Urs Lühti
Curator: Valerio Dehò
ART IS THE BETTER LIFE
is a monographic exhibition dedicated to the works of the Swiss artist Urs Lüthi (* 1947). Presenting a selection of his works, from 1970 until today, the retrospective is designed according to the artist’s express desires and ideas.
Urs Lüthi is one of the most important representatives of European Conceptual Art; already his works from 1970 testify to an extremely complex and ambivalent way of dealing with photography and the topic of self-portraits.
Lüthi’s art is provoking. It always combines irony and self-irony with a controlled quest for form. Lüthi has managed to raise his autobiography, his ego, his body, and its various physiological changes to a single coherent work of art. Independent of the technique of his works (photography, painting, sculpture, performance, multiples, and editions), he has remained faithful to that certain line along which a life becomes an aesthetic experience.
The exhibition presents the entire series of works entitled Trademarks from the year 2006. In addition, Lüthi brings his own body together with fundamental architectural elements in ten bronze sculptures from the series Spazio umano. In these works, he also creates a dialogue between the human body and artificial spaces. The artist cultivates a very personal form of Humanism through which he takes up the grand tradition of classical antiquity, albeit with irony and intelligence
Born 1947 in Lucerne, where he was also raised, Lüthi attended the school of applied arts in Zurich and worked as a graphic artist
His first complete cycle of works was exhibited in 1966 at the 'Beat Mäder' gallery in Berne.
In 1969, Lüthi turned to photography. He participated in an exhibition at Kunstmuseum Luzern. Lüthi installed his own clothes, jewelry, keys, identity card, as well as - on a postcard stand - photos from various series, thus turning himself into an object of his art: the investiture of the art figure Urs Lüthi.
In the same year, he exhibited androgynous self-portraits at the 'Toni Gerber' gallery in Berne. The ambivalence of his beguiling works is irritating and interesting at once.
In the late seventies, the aesthetics of black-and-white photography gradually made way for color photographs. That was when Lüthi started to explore the banal and ordinary nature of the existing art scene with irony, wittiness, and false naiveté.
The eighties were marked by conceptual painting, almost always in series, for which Lüthi used various forms and styles, and which he catalogued and presented at formally strict exhibitions.
In the nineties, Lüthi returned to photography. Since then, his works have often been dedicated to the aesthetic strategies of contemporary society and to the fake actions of the consumption cycle.
He converted the Swiss pavilion at the 2001 Venice Biennial into an installation room and ironically exhibited himself, lying in the middle of the room, smiling, and wearing a tracksuit, sneakers, and sunglasses.
Lüthi has been married to the actress Ulrike Willenbachersince 1986.
Their daughter Maria was born in 1989.
Urs Lüthi has been teaching at Kunsthochschule Kassel since 1994.
The prize of honor of the Canton of Zurich was bestowed upon Urs Lüthi for his oeuvre in 1996.
In 2009, he was awarded the Arnold-Bode-Preis by the city of Kassel