Kunsthaus Glarus

Werke von Pablo Picasso und der Cobra Gruppe

24 Aug - 23 Nov 2014


Shortly before his death the Glarus optician and art collector Othmar Huber (1892-1979) transferred his private collection of famous works of 20th century art to a foundation, and presented them as permanent loans to Kunstmuseum Bern, Aargauer Kunsthaus and Kunsthaus Glarus. Another part of the collection went to his daughter Helga and her husband the architect Rolf Marti. The exhibition in the basement of Kunsthaus Glarus now brings together print works by Pablo Picasso from the collection of Helga and Rolf Marti, Picasso’s Tête de femme, profil (1963) and works by CoBrA group artists Pierre Alechinsky, Karel Appel, Corneille, Asger Jorn and Lucebert in the Glarus holdings. The selection testifies to Huber’s cosmopolitan approach to collection, his sensitivity to the events of his epoch and his awareness of the actual trends, and commemorates both Huber and his milieu.

Throughout his life, Othmar Huber’s collection was constantly in motion, he bought and sold his works with a keen sense of the expressive and the existential, thus producing an intuitive affirmation of the art of his time and an image of his world-view. The preferences of the private collector - several times president and exhibition organiser of Glarus Art Society - lay with subjective expression, colour and line with an emphasis on gloomy mental landscapes, the chaotic and the primitive, primal forms, the dreamlike and the demonic, and these thus shaped the unmistakable profile of the collection. As senior consultant in the eye department at Glarus Canton Hospital, in the 1930s Huber wrote reviews of exhibitions in Zurich in the Glarner Nachrichten newspaper. During this time his interest moved away from Hodler and Swiss landscape painting to the international avant-garde, to Klee, Kandinsky, the Expressionists Kirchner, Marc, Heckel, Macke, Barlach and Dix, who were all persecuted in Germany on the grounds of ‘degeneracy’, and who were also seen in Switzerland as revolutionary and subversive, while recognised Swiss art acted as a cultural protective shield for the intellectual defence of the country. In 1932, for example, Huber reported on the Picasso exhibition in Kunsthaus Zürich, and in 1941 he bought Picasso’s Buveuse assoupie (1902), which was shown by the Nazis in the Degenerate Art exhibition in Munich, via the Lucerne Galerie Fischer. The painting is now on permanent loan to Kunstmuseum Bern. Over the years this painting was joined by other works by Picasso, and along with many other acquisitions – including those of the CoBrA group, which Huber bought even when he was advanced in years – demonstrate the wide-ranging and contemporary interests of a tireless advocate of the contemporary and the avant-garde.

Tags: Pierre Alechinsky, Karel Appel, Corneille, Asger Jorn, Wassily Kandinsky, Pablo Picasso