Leo Leuppi (1893-1972)
Komposition III, 1943
Oil on canvas, 80 x 60 cm
Sammlung Ricola

Leo Leuppi (1893–1972)

This photograph shows the oldest painting in the Ricola collection. It was painted by Zurich-based artist Leo Leuppi in 1943. Leuppi, a famous and important artist in his own country in his time, founded the Groupe Suisse Abstraction et Surréalisme in 1934 and in 1937 became one of the founders of Allianz, a group of Swiss modern artists. As well as creating new art, Leuppi championed the public appreciation of art. In 1936 an exhibition entitled “Problems of Time in Swiss Painting and Sculpture” was shown at Kunsthaus Zürich. Leuppi and also Richard Paul Lohse, Max Bill, Verena Loewensberg and Clara Friedrich, all of whom are also represented in the Ricola collection, exhibited at this internationally noted exhibition, which included constructivist, concrete and surrealist works.

Leuppi‘s dedication to modern art came in an era of growing political and cultural tensions in Europe. In Germany, for example, modern art had been condemned in conservative and National Socialist circles since the early 1930s. In 1937, the same year in which Allianz was founded in Switzerland, the National Socialist Party in Germany organized a touring exhibition of ‘degenerate art’, which was shown first in Munich and then in many other cities. The exhibition included hundreds of artworks confiscated from German museums. The effect of the exhibition, designed to mock contemporary art and suppress freedom of expression, should not be underestimated. Art historian Roger M Buergel, artistic director of documenta 12 in Kassel in 2007, considers this exhibition and campaign, with its derision of modern art, to be a “precursor to the great extermination”. [...]


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