a large-scale installation by Barbara Stauffacher Solomon
NOV 24 2022 – APR 30 2023
We are delighted to announce that the Municipality of St. Moritz has unveiled a new large-scale graphic installation by American artist Barbara “Bobbie” Stauffacher Solomon (b. 1928, USA) on the shores of Lake St. Moritz, initiated by Serpentine Galleries. The installation, titled WELCOME, was realised by the city of St. Moritz with the support of von Bartha gallery and the Thomas and Doris Ammann Foundation and is one of the first public artworks to be shown in St. Moritz.
The idea for the project was first initiated by the Serpentine’s Artistic Director, Hans Ulrich Obrist, looking at Bobbie’s long and closely intertwined history with Switzerland, and Lady Elena Foster of the Serpentine Galleries then proposed the perfect location for a work: Standing at almost four metres high and 29 metres wide, WELCOME is located at the entry point to the alpine town, close to the train station and the lake, acting as a symbol for the town’s hospitality and forward-thinking attitude. Incorporating Solomon’s self-created alphabet and typeface – the ‘BSS alphabet’, which the artist has designed and developed over the years, the installation has been crafted in a way that encourages the viewer to engage with each individual letter. This ‘supergraphic’ is neither lettering nor architecture but a hybrid form that has an astonishing spatial effect.
Based in San Francisco, nonagenarian, Solomon belongs to a generation that popularized the aesthetics of Swiss design and typography in the USA. Solomon’s celebrated career was originally born out of necessity – after the artist became a widow and single parent early in life, 2 she was invited to study graphic design in Switzerland as a means to be able to support her young family. In Basel in the 1950s, she was the first American at the Kunstgewerbeschule, studying under acclaimed designer Armin Hofmann. Moving back to the USA, the artist became involved with the Sea Ranch, an idealist coastal community famed for its stripped back architecture, which the artist’s logo and colourful design helped cement into the hearts and minds of designers everywhere. It was at Sea Ranch where she created her ‘supergraphics’ and went on to become a key figure in the modern design movement of the 1960s and 70s.
Christian Jott Jenny, Mayor of St. Moritz says: “We are very proud to host this work by Barbara Stauffacher Solomon placed at the entry point of our town. The significance of the word WELCOME is an encompassment of our local identity, and its central placement means that we are rightly reminded of this every day. We are fascinated by the artist’s role as an ambassador of Swiss cultural heritage in the USA, and the pioneering philosophy of her work. The work and the artist stand for an enlightened, international exchange which has always been a defining part of our history as a much-loved destination in the Swiss Alps.”
The work is a public engagement of the town of St. Moritz in collaboration with St. Moritz Tourism. The project was initiated by the “Council of the Serpentine Galleries”, London and is made possible with the special support of the Thomas and Doris Ammann Foundation, Zürich and von Bartha, Basel & Copenhagen. We would like to thank the Rhaetian Railway Rhb, Chur for making the wall available for the presentation of the work.
Header Image: ‘Welcome’ by Barbara Stauffacher Solomon in St. Moritz © fotoswiss by Giancarlo Cattaneo. Drone images with permission from Airport Samedan
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