While Romanticism in Switzerland describes an artistic movement, the term Symbolism is much harder to define. Symbolism can’t be described as a specific stylistic genre, but rather as an artistic attitude. Their representatives were not interested in depicting the visible, the rational and scientific, but rather referencing the invisible - or the spiritual. In their paintings, one encounters mysterious and fantastic dream worlds that are charged with symbolic meaning, oftentimes referencing basic human experiences such as death and eroticism. Romanticism and Symbolism share an interest in spirituality, natural philosophy and the understanding of unity, such as the Gesamtkunstwerk. They both attempt to refer beyond the visible in their artistic expressions.
With works by Alexandre Calame, Ferdinand Hodler, Giovanni Giacometti, Stéphanie Guerzoni, Hans Bachmann or Clara Porges, the exhibition focuses on Swiss artists between 1840 and 1925, whose creative spectrum lies between Romanticism and Symbolism. Their figurative paintings are charged with symbolic meaning, a strong sense of individuality, and the common strive to abandon strict mimesis in order to pursue the autonomy of the image as an independent carrier of meaning.