Having joined the Pop Art movement, Peter Stämpfli developed a methodical and radical approach exploring everyday items such as the iconic universe of the car, to focus on the tire and tire treads which rapidly became his favorite theme. The exhibition proposed by the Gallery concentrates on a completely different aspect of Peter Stämpfli’s work by unveiling a series of paintings from 1963 and 1964, most of which have not been presented since the exhibition at the Bruno Bischofberger Gallery in 1966 and some of which remain completely unknown to the public.
«In 1961-1962, I was struck by some American or English artists who posed the problem of introducing the object into painting, in a very different manner from the one that existed until then, by referring in particular to photography, advertising, posters. They have, in my opinion, opened a path that I have been for a very long time unconsciously searching for,» declared Peter Stämpfli.
In 1963, starting from a photograph or an image as a foundation, Stämpfli painted larger than life «gestures or objects so common that we do not notice them any longer». Glacière (Ice Box), Bonjour, Pot-au-feu (Beef Stew), Allo Plombier (Hello Mr. Plumber)…: «Stämpfli encourages us to question the detail in its ability to testify to a reality plagued by the emotions of doubt and fascination,» writes the art historian Anne Tronche. The city of Paris – where he settled in 1959 – and posters in the subway, inspire him by their monumental proportions. He cuts images out of magazines, makes montages, plays with collage, enlarges objects and paints them in oil. «My research at the time was to make a sort of glossary of objects, of everyday gestures.»
From 1966 on, Peter Stämpfli concentrates his attention on a particularly emblematic object of the consumer society: the automobile. His realistic paintings are nothing more than fragments. His canvases focus on the motifs of tires, wheels, steering wheels, radiator grilles, sometimes even taking the form with cut-out car chassis and installed according to the exhibition space. Focusing himself in 1970 on the tire and precisely the tread, Peter Stämpfli – through the extreme enlargement of what he calls (paradoxically) the «sculpture of the tire» – develops a radically new pictorial language. Starting from this unique subject, he revisits the history of geometric abstraction and transforms an ordinary theme illustrating «the power of art to convert any element into aesthetic virtues» (Henry Martin, Art International, 1971). As a devoted artist, Stämpfli exhibited in numerous museums and biennials, directed films and collaborated with leading writers such as Georges Perec, who wrote an alphabet for him. His works are now present in many public collections. Among them: MoMA in New York, the Georges Pompidou Center in Paris and the Kunstmuseum in Zurich.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a catalog with texts by Alfred Pacquement, curator and former director of the National Museum of Modern Art, and Robert Storr, curator, former curator of the MoMA and director of the 2007 Venice Biennale. In addition to the exhibited works, this one will be abundantly illustrated with unpublished archive images and significant works that have disappeared today or belong to major public and private collections.