Annemarie Schwarzenbach: Departure Without Destination, presented in collaboration with the Zentrum Paul Klee at Bern, Switzerlandis the first major retrospective devoted to the photography of Annemarie Schwarzenbach. The Bechtler Museum of Modern Art presents America’s premier work by Schwarzenbach, exhibited across June 19, 2022. Organized by Martin Waldmeier with the Zentrum Paul Klee, this exhibition presents archival documents, films and 200 photographs taken from some 7,000 photographs from the estate of Annemarie Schwarzenbachpreserved in the Swiss Literary Archives in Bern, Switzerland.

Schwarzenbach was born in 1908 into the wealthy Schwarzenbach-Wille family of Zürich industrialists and history graduates in Zürich and Paris. Because of her political and sexual orientation, she turned her back on her conservative family and forged ties with the German literary diaspora, especially with siblings. Klaus and Erika Mann. In 1931, she lived Berlin before passing, after the National Socialist seizure of power, to Spain, Russia and Iranwhere she publishes prose and journalistic writing.

Despite her years of struggling with drug addiction, during the 1930s Schwarzenbach professionalized herself as a travel and reporting journalist. On joint trips with writers and photographers such as Ella Maillart, Marianne Breslauer and Erika Mannshe turned to social and political subjects, including the rise of National Socialism, the labor movement in United States, the consequences of modernization and the role of women in society. His photographs, however, also reveal a longing for foreign lands and the poetry of travel. Some 300 articles by Schwarzenbach were published in Swiss magazines and newspapers during his lifetime. From 1933 these articles were increasingly accompanied by his own photos, although most of Schwarzenbach’s photographs remained unpublished before his death at the age of 34.

Annemarie Schwarzenbach was multi-talented – as a writer, journalist and photographer – at a time when few women were represented in these fields,” said the executive director of the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art. Todd D. Smith. “The dialogue that develops between Schwarzenbach’s texts and photographs opens our eyes to the upheavals and conflicts of the 1930s. At the same time, Schwarzenbach’s documentary gaze explores themes in a poetic and surprisingly contemporary way.”

When her literary work was rediscovered in the 1980s, Schwarzenbach rose to fame as a writer, trailblazer and gay icon. Her fashion sense and lifestyle were the inspiration for At Clare Waight Keller Spring/summer 2019 line for the fashion house Givenchy.

It is only recently that Schwarzenbach’s contributions to photography have been recognized. His images and his writings are intertwined and document the upheavals, tensions and conflicts of the period leading up to the Second World War. Schwarzenbach’s photographs also convey private themes, such as life in exile, the search for identity, homosexuality, and the desire to transgress conventional gender roles. But above all, the photographs express Schwarzenbach’s unbridled passion for travel – and his search for encounters with the unknown, the “departure without destination” as an existential experience. The title of the exhibition “Départ sans destination” refers to the life of Annemarie Schwarzenbach, which is characterized by great restlessness, homelessness, uprooting, departure and a search for hope in foreign countries. These themes run like a common thread through his writings and his photographic work and link the work to the literary tradition of the modern era.

About the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art

The Bechtler Museum of Modern Art is the only museum in the Southern United States exclusively dedicated to modern European and American art and its legacies. Capturing a remarkable era in the history of art from the Zurich-based Bechtler family collection, the collection of the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art includes works by some of the most important and influential figures of Modernism, including Alexander Calder, Le Corbusier, Edgar Degas, Max Ernst, Alberto Giacometti, Barbara Hepworth, Jasper Johns, Paul KleeAlfred Manessier, Joan Miró, Kenneth Noland, Pablo Picasso, Bridget Riley, Nicolas de Stael, Andy Warhol and a host of other 20th century notables. The museum, designed by Swiss architect Mario Bootshighlights the iconic Niki de Saint Phalle The Great Firebird on the Ark at his entrance. Located in the heart of Uptown, the Bechtler is a bright community space created to inspire and engage new visitors and long-time supporters.

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SOURCE Bechtler Museum of Modern Art

William E. Bennett