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Side profile of Martin Disler in front of abstract painting with Theater der Urberlebens Die spaten Jahre in orange font

Theatre of Survival

Martin Disler. The Final Years

Edited by Carla Burani
Edited by Beat Wismer


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  • Martin Disler (1949–1996) is one of Switzerland’s most significant 20th-century artists whose work gained much international attention and was shown in solo exhibitions during his lifetime at important venues such as London’s Whitechapel Art Gallery, the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, Vienna’s Albertina
  • This new monograph focuses on Disler’s late work, putting it in context with Ernst Ludwig Kirchner’s art
  • Accompanies the Theatre of Survival: Martin Disler. The Final Years exhibition at Kirchner Museum Davos (29th November 2020 until 7th November 2021)
  • Text in English and German
Full Description

Swiss artist Martin Disler (1949–1996) was a self-taught painter, draughtsman, and sculptor, as well as a poet. Over the course of his career, his work evolves from clearly recognisable motifs towards the utter disintegration of figures. Especially his later paintings owe their power, as well as their size, to his particular way of working: In a highly physical process, the artist would alternate between applying and removing paint, moulding matter with brushes and knives as well as with his hands and nails until his body merged with the work. The materialisation of Disler’s physical thinking, a ‘theatre of survival’, places him in a fascinating dialogue with Ernst Ludwig Kirchner and the great expressionist’s work.

This new monograph, published in conjunction with an exhibition at Kirchner Museum Davos, focuses on the last decade of Disler’s career and relates his output from the period to Kirchner’s art, thus revealing similarities between the two artists. The essays explore the importance of the human body and its role in the artist’s creative process as well as aspects such as movement and dance, gesture, expression, abstraction and figuration.

About the Author

Carla Burani is an art historian and has been appointed as director of Kirchner Museum Davos in 2019.#

Beat Wismer is a scholar of art history and has been director of Museum Kunstpalast in Düsseldorf (Germany) 2007–17 and Aargauer Kunsthaus Aarau (Switzerland) 1985–2007.

Scheidegger & Spiess
12th Jul 2021
Paperback / softback
World excluding Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Puerto Rico, United States, Canada, and Japan
285 mm x 215 mm
112 Pages
70 color, 10 b&w
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