Centenary of Dürrenmatt: the public was at the rendezvous

(ats) “Museum attendance has been very good given the restrictions related to the health crisis. Several events were sold out,” Madeleine Betschart, director of the CDN, told Keystone-ATS on Thursday.

If the exact number of visitors could not yet be quantified, there were up to four guided tours per day, explained the director. More than 700 students also saw the play “The trial for the shadow of the donkey”, which took place on a stage set up on the artist’s former swimming pool.

The institution was also delighted to have achieved its objectives, in particular to introduce little-known facets of Friedrich Dürrenmatt and to highlight the complementarity between his pictorial work and his literary work, whether through its exhibitions, its visitable repository or its publications. The CDN has also opened spaces linked to Dürrenmatt living spaces to the public, such as its office and library.

On the occasion of the centenary, the CDN also left its walls by launching an original podcast and a series of videos relating to the museum, the exhibitions and the events. The institution has also published an important bilingual publication “Parcours et detours avec Friedrich Dürrenmatt”. The 1st volume was published in February 2021, the 2nd in December and the 3rd is expected for the spring of 2022. The objective of this publication is to explore the complementarity between the pictorial and literary work of the artist.

In 2022, the museum will present three temporary exhibitions that will address the art of caricature, theatrical drawings and the motif of play in the work of Friedrich Dürrenmatt. The one on caricatures will open on Saturday and will be held until May 15.

The artist, who had a particular affection for this form of art, sketched both Hercules and William Tell, devils, popes or nuns with angel wings. The writer and painter considered caricature to be a weapon of the human spirit, which he liked to point against the abuses and aberrations of society and politics.

A week before his death, he declared: “The gap between the way in which the human being lives and the way in which he could live becomes always more ridiculous. We live in the era of the grotesque and the caricature”.

The exhibition is accompanied by a publication and numerous events. Originally scheduled for 2020, “Friedrich Dürrenmatt – Caricatures” has been postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. It will close a cycle of exhibitions which took place in several countries.

Friedrich Dürrenmatt spent many years of his life in Neuchâtel on his property in the Vallon de l’Ermitage, where he died in 1990. His villa was integrated into a museum, designed by architect Mario Botta, which opened its doors in 2000.

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