Eva Aeppli

25 January – 2 May 2006

The exhibition Eva Aeppli at the Museum Tinguely opens with the «Life Books» that the artist kept between 1954 and 2002. They are being shown here for the first time in their entirety, not only in showcases but also projected on screens, page after page. The «Life Books» record Eva Aeppli’s life as an artist from her early beginnings in the extremely modest atelier in the Impasse Ronsin in Paris with her first husband Jean Tinguely; the early charcoal drawings usually executed on packing paper in high format, sombre human figures, are masterly renderings of human frailty. Following these are the paintings, large-scale ‘dances of death’, rivers of bones, piles of skeletons, heads, skulls, hands. And finally her figures, individual figures and groups, human figures made of fabric and stuffed with Kapok, their faces and bodies highly individualised and at the same time unsettling in their anonymity. Towards the end, one comes across in the folios of the «Life Books» photographs of the heads she sculpted in her late phase.

But the «Life Books» do more than just simply list and illustrate an extraordinary artistic output. They are above all scrapbooks spanning a lifetime. In them, Eva Aeppli records her friendships, her family, her parents and siblings, her children and husbands; she interweaves her life and her art in a most personal and exemplary manner into an indivisible entity. For an artist who has always refused to pass comments on her own works, the «Life Books» enable an intimate insight into her life and work.

The artist and her husband Samuel Mercer now live in Normandy. Her work is being shown here in an exemplary retrospective, the first since 1994, thanks in part to the numerous loans from the Moderna Museet in Stockholm, with works central to the artist’s career such as the cycle of drawings «Le Strip-Tease», the paintings «Fleuve I» and «Fleuve II», the sculpture groups «La Table» and «Groupe de 48»; and from other collections her late groups of heads in fabric and bronze: the «Planets», the «Human weaknesses» and the «Signs of the Zodiac».

Exhibited alongside her drawings, paintings, figures, groups of figures and bronzes are documents and collections that are even more revealing about the life and work of Eva Aeppli – e.g. the «Nattes», ribbons piqued with cloth flowers that she sent to her friends in 1987.

There are also works carried out in collaboration with friends, be it Jean-Pierre Raynaud or Jean Tinguely that illustrate Eva Aeppli’s ability, even in collaboration with others, to retain her own identity while allowing her partner enough leeway. These friendships are also represented in the exhibition with works by Yves Klein, Daniel Spoerri, Bernhard Luginbühl and other artist friends.

Thus, over the years, the «Life Books» have almost evolved into an «autobiography without words». And because some of her friends have made important contributions towards them, the «Life Books» have also developed into an extraordinary and most personal document on European art in the post-war period.