240 x 190 cm
Acrylic and coal on canvas
Collection Museum Haus Konstruktiv
Donated by Cristina Spoerri-Stiftung
Zeichenbild [Sign image]
When discussing the work of Cristina Spoerri (born 1929 in Tenero, Switzerland, died 2013 in Reinach, Switzerland), we often encounter the art historical term “sfumato,” which is a way to describe soft, fuzzy outlines or motifs engulfed in a hazy mist. In other words, it is a term that we initially would not associate with Museum Haus Konstruktiv, which after all is primarily devoted to Constructivist and Concrete Art.
Spoerri grew up in the Ticino region of Switzerland in an artistic family. Her father was a painter who also did drawings. When she was young, she decided to follow her dream to become an artist and enrolled in the Kunstgewerbeschule in Zurich. There, she took classes in color theory from Johannes Itten, who had also taught at the Bauhaus in Weimar. During her studies, she began to explore textile art, but soon turned to painting instead. She also created major public art projects in her new hometown of Basel and later also in Riehen.
Although she used formal elements that belong to the vocabulary of non-representational art – for example, crosses, circles, and triangles – in her early works, she also often worked with fragments of writing consisting of letters that look stenciled. In this way, she integrated poems and text passages, which she called letters, into her works. As the Basel-based art historian Dorothea Christ has pointed out, these do not refer to real events, but are rather the way the artist expresses her spiritual search, goals, excursions, doubts, and insights in her pictures.
The two works by Cristina Spoerri in the collection of Museum Haus Konstruktiv belong to her later works. Although they also feature many of the symbols and forms that she began exploring early in her career for their expressive potential, the way these seem to move through the pictorial space in her later works is lighter and more delicate. This impression is certainly also due to the sfumato-style hazy background, which challenges our eyes to delve deeper into the painting and to identify hidden lines and forms. Even the clearly defined charcoal lines in the foreground seem to be full of dynamic movement and the effort to maintain a precarious balance. As a result, Spoerri manages to show how sfumato can serve and enhance concrete elements in art after all.