150 x 150 x 5.5 cm
Resin, acrylic on plywood, aluminum profile
Collection Museum Haus Konstruktiv
Donated by Susi and Ueli Berger
Ueli Berger (born 1937 in Bern, Switzerland, where he died in 2008) worked with several architects after completing training as a painter. Also an industrial designer, he and his wife were responsible for several iconic Swiss designs. The artist remarked in 2006 that he did not have a stylistically consistent oeuvre, but that he was rather interested in making people think and in breaking with the traditional values of a “clean” Switzerland. In this respect, his Constructivist works, which he created only in the 1960s, complement the rest of his overall body of work. Like his other projects, they are meant to counteract a kind of hardened ideology.
Berger was also a Jazz musician, and he circulated in Bern’s vibrant art scene. He got to know many people, such as Christian Megert and Marcel Wyss, the editor of “Spirale” magazine. He exhibited his works in the Kunsthalle Bern, where Harald Szeemann was the director, and he was a member of the artists’ group Bern 66. His Constructivist works are characterized by a kind of geometric art that could best be called “Geo-Pop”. He injected an element of the trivial into the canon of Concrete Art, and he combed high art with low art and art with everyday life. Primarily interested in the object as such, Berger occasionally created somewhat bizarre hybrid shapes that remind us of everyday articles, with colors modeled on color palettes used in the world of fashion and design. Berger’s entire oeuvre explores the interaction between the two-dimensional plane and three-dimensional space. His work “Symptom V” thus seems to sink directly into the ground, while his wall object “Juli” appears to be tilting away from the wall. Quite often, as in “4 x 4”, or “Quadro,” an empty space in the picture where the wall is visible becomes part of the compositional structure and is elaborately integrated into the discourse of plane and space.
Ueli Berger worked with a purely geometric language for only a short period, and he is more well-known for the phase that followed, which is figurative in the broadest sense. Nevertheless, his Constructivist works occupy a significant place in Swiss geometric art. They reveal how American art inspired a new direction in European geometric art. Like many artists, Berger worked to counteract timeworn notions, and his goal was nothing less than to liberate geometric art from its old ways and to renew it in the spirit of optimism of the 1960s.