Current
Exhibition &
Artists

Erlenweg 2

This year's exhibition reflects the various core themes of Nicola Erni's collection: fashion photography from the 1950s to now, paparazzi photographs from the 1960s and 1970s, and also paintings, objects and installations of contemporary art.

On the upper floor there is a separate exhibition section titled Dirty Martini: Photographs of the 1960s and 1970s with mainly black-and-white photographs. The approximately 200 testimonials of life illustrate the personalities and celebrities who shaped the culture of those two decades. These are portrait and paparazzi photographs of the legendary music, film, fashion and art scenes in North America and Europe.

Fashion photographs by Richard Avedon, Hiro, Tim Walker and Harley Weir are on display as well. The exhibition section with numerous large-format photographs by Mario Testino can still be discovered.

The artworks by Jean-Michel Basquiat, Elmgreen & Dragset, Keith Haring, Tilly Joos, Pamela Rosenkranz and Julian Schnabel represent the second branch of the Nicola Erni Collection, namely the multifaceted contemporary art. A special exhibition highlight are the monumental paintings by Rashid Johnson titled Seven Anxious Paintings and the work Surrender Painting commissioned by the Nicola Erni Collection.

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Artists on View

Richard Avedon

Richard Avedon (American, 1923–2004) was born in New York into a Jewish family with a well-documented fascination for art, fashion and photography. By means of his new visual language he revolutionised the fashion photography of his time. He’s famous for his love of experimentation, playing with technical aspects, image format, mounting and the poses of his models. In 1944 he received his first formal education in photography at the New York School for Social Research, where he was enrolled in Alexey Brodovitch’s (1898–1871) ‘Design Laboratory’ class. Brodovitch, who was the art director of Harper’s Bazaar, taught his students a conceptual approach to photography. From 1944 to 1965 Avedon worked for Harper’s Bazaar and thereafter almost twenty years for US Vogue. He belongs to a generation of fashion photographers that showed a whole palette of emotions and that opted for diverse outdoor settings as backdrops for the models. Beginning in the late 1950s and early 1960s he published photobooks and is still celebrated today in museum exhibitions.

Jean-Michel Basquiat

Jean-Michel Basquiat (American, 1960-1988) was a painter who lived and worked in New York. He arrived at painting from the graffiti and hip-hop scene around 1980. Within eight years he created an œuvre as fascinating as it is complex. The art-historical canonisation of Basquiat’s works is as diverse as the interpretation of them is subjective. Basquiat was very receptive and well-read and alongside autobiographical references he incorporated into his art his vast knowledge of the streets, of historical, sociocultural and art-historical erudition, of literature, music, comics, symbols, and visual references from TV and mass media. During his creative period in the 1980s he became great friends with the famous pop-art artist Andy Warhol and the two created over 130 collaboration works together.

Elmgreen & Dragset

Michael Elmgreen (Danish, b. 1961) and Ingar Dragset (Norwegian, b. 1969) both live in Berlin and since 1995 have worked as an artist duo under the name Elmgreen & Dragset. With their work they examine objects in their historical, political, cultural and sociological context, question the status quo and re-contextualise. By so doing, Elmgreen & Dragset walk a line between art and architecture, installation and performance. Their international breakthrough came with the permanent Installation Prada Marfa in 2005, when they installed a sham Prada store in the middle of nowhere in the Texas desert. The installation The Collectors was their contribution for the adjacent Danish and Nordic Pavilions at the 53rd Venice Biennale in 2009. Since 1997 they have exhibited regularly in key international museums.

Keith Haring

Keith Haring (American, 1958-1990), known for his illustrative depictions of figures and symbols, was an artist and social activist. Initially planning to become a commercial artist, he soon changed his mind and chose to study at the School of Visual Arts in New York. The school was a hub for the Downtown New York art scene. His Pop art emerged from the New York City graffiti subculture of the 1980s. Haring’s popularity grew out of his spontaneous drawings in the subways – chalk outlines of figures, dogs and other stylised images on empty black advertising spaces. In his pieces he combined graffiti, hip-hop and urban aesthetics that were both playful and engaged with social issues.

Hiro (Japanese, 1930-2021) was a self-taught commercial and fashion photographer. He spent his youth in war-torn China before his family returned to Japan after the end of the Second World War. In Tokyo he discovered his passion for photography. Unceremoniously, he decided to move to New York, where he became a studio assistant to Richard Avedon. Avedon soon sent him to Harper’s Bazaar legendary art director Alexey Brodovitch, and in 1966 Hiro became the first staff photographer of the fashion magazine. Once his talent and the originality of his photographs were discovered, Hiro (birth name Yasuhiro Wakabayashi) pursued a great career in fashion, beauty, still life and portrait photography. His work was often surreal and is characterised by unusual lighting, wonderment and bold colour.

Rashid Johnson

Rashid Johnson (American, b. 1977) is a conceptual artist working and living in New York City. He received his first critical attention in 2001, when his works were shown in the Freestyle exhibition at the Studio Museum in Harlem. Johnson works with various media, including painting, sculpture, ceramics, photography, film and monumental installation. His oeuvre draws on autobiographical references and African American symbolism, particularly in terms of the materials he uses, such as black soap, tropical plants, shea butter, tiles and graffiti. He addresses issues of cultural identity and social belonging as well as the emotions associated with them.

Tilly Joos

Tilly Joos (Swiss, b. 2000) expresses herself by using symbols and colours to create images with a graphic visual language. Inspired by her stays in Mexico and amongst other cultures, Joos creates bright opaque images. The young visual artist completed the remedial course at the Zurich University of the Arts and debuted in a group exhibition in March 2022, in St. Moritz, Engadin.

Pamela Rosenkranz

Pamela Rosenkranz (Swiss, b. 1979) is known for her conceptual objects, installations and paintings. She pairs familiar objects like FIJI water bottles, which are filled with skin-coloured liquids, with body prints on different surfaces. Almost bitingly, she reduces something as grand as identity to a synthetic fleshiness. Her works represent the relationship between consumer products and the living, breathing bodies that use them. Rosenkranz represented Switzerland at the 55th Venice Biennale in 2015.

Julian Schnabel

Julian Schnabel (American, b. 1951) lives and works between New York and Montauk (Long Island). Schnabel studied art at the University of Houston (1969–73) and attended an Independent Study Programme at Whitney Museum of American Art (1973–74). After a first stay in Italy in 1977, Schnabel paid another visit to Europe a year later and was particularly inspired by the architecture of Antoni Gaudí in Spain. The idea for his renowened large-format paintings made with broken ceramic plates has its roots in that very first trip to Barcelona. Beside the so-called “plate paintings”, Schnabel experiments with a vast rage of materials and substrates to create his monumental works.

Mario Testino

Mario Testino (Peruvian, b. 1954) is one of the most renowned fashion and portrait photographers of our time, having risen to international fame in 1997 with a portrait of the late Princess Diana. His photographs are a reflection of his personality, whether in their joyful colourfulness, sexy sensuality and relaxed serenity, or in his models’ trust in Testino as a photographer and the touching intimacy of his portraits. 

Tim Walker

Tim Walker (British, b. 1970) creates otherworldly photographs. His fiction and fantasy compositions often involve combinations of interior and exterior and changes of scale. Tim Walker became interested in photography at the Condé Nast library in London where he worked on the Cecil Beaton archive. After graduating in Photography from the Exeter College of Art in Oxford, he worked as an assistant to Richard Avedon in New York. Soon after, Walker began shooting fashion stories for Vogue and W Magazine. Walker's photographs are nostalgic for an era of innocence and exuberance, youthful imagination and unique aesthetics. The artist lives and works in London.

Harley Weir

Harley Weir (British, b. 1991) studied Fine Art at Central Saint Martins College and is known for creating intimate images and films. Before embarking on a career as a fashion photographer, she moved back and forth with ease between personal and commercial work. Weir’s images are often carefully composed with a highly attuned sense of colour and mise-en-scène. One encounters a candid naturalism that refers to historical models and contemporary portraits. Having shot numerous campaigns for luxury brands, compelling editorials and a series of personal projects, she has become a leading force in the photography and film industries.

Exhibition: Dirty Martini

Photographs of the 60s and 70s

Past Exhibitions

In 2009, as the art collection kept growing, the idea of a customized “home” for the collection came up. The dream of an “extended living room” was born. The building was finished in 2013 and inaugurated with a private exhibition in the following year. Three more exhibitions followed in 2015, 2016 and 2018.

In line with the collection’s focus all of the exhibitions showed photography and contemporary art in various media from artists such as Peter Lindbergh, Ellen von Unwerth, Richard Avedon, Irving Penn, Helmut Newton, Sarah Moon, Paolo Roversi, Peter Knapp, Nick Knight, Guy Bourdin, Hiro, Emma Summerton and Mario Testino as well as Julian Schnabel, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Andy Warhol, Robert Rauschenberg, Rashid Johnson, Tim Noble & Sue Webster, Elmgreen & Dragset, Yinka Shonibare CBE, Beatriz Milhazes, Sylvie Fleury and Maurizio Cattelan etc.

A complete artist list you find here.

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