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There are certain places in the world where at a given time events become concentrated in an extraordinary way and as such are able to write themselves into the history of the world as venues of significant cultural achievements. One such place is St. Gallen in Switzerland and within it the Erker complex: Erker Publishers, Studio and Meeting Place.
The multifarious Erker complex became one of the defining centres of gravity for international, contemporary fine arts movements after the war. It occupies a worthy position among the most advanced Western European contemporary intellectual centres for the fine arts thanks to its exhibitions, publishing activities, fine arts studio, total art events (artists’ colony, meet the artist events, readings, lectures, dinners, etc.). In international art historiography the period after 1945 is called the era of seeking new abstract paths collectively referred to as art informel or formless abstraction. Besides the two centres of art informel, Paris and New York, St. Gallen represents the third most important point of concurrence and prominent, high standard intellectual centre of post-war non-figurative art where fine artists, critics, writers and philosophers regularly met, worked together, and temporarily resided. The Erker complex has become home to experiments in the reproductive graphic arts as well as to technical and formal diversity.
The most prominent artists active in the Erker Studio were: Hans Hartung, Antoni Tàpies and Günther Uecker, Max Bill, Piero Dorazio, Giuseppe Santomaso, Robert Motherwell, Mark Tobey, Giuseppe Capogrossi, Serge Poliakoff and Asger Jorn. Sculptors Alexander Archipenko, Eduardo Chillida, Ossip Zadkine and Fritz Wotruba also joined this community of artists for longer or shorter periods and St. Gallen was visited by such noted writers, poets, art historians, critics and philosophers as Jean Cassou, Max Frisch, Ezra Pound, Eugène Ionesco, Martin Heidegger, Peter Huchel, Friedrich Dürrenmatt, Ernst and Friedrich Georg Jünger, Joseph Brodsky and Halldór Laxness.
The exhibition seeks to present the complexity of the Erker phenomenon, its heyday (1962-1987) and the work of the artists who visited it and to emphasise its importance in art history. The show serves as a good opportunity to make this little known intellectual centre of total art (fine arts, literature, music, philosophy) more widely popular by showcasing fine arts and literary works as well as original recordings and archive photos. The backbone and occasion of the exhibition is provided by the highly valuable art collection originating from the heyday of the Erker Studio which was added to the Department of Prints and Drawings of the Museum of Fine Arts in 2010 as a donation by the Swiss Franz Larese and Jürg Janett Foundation. After St. Gallen, Zürich and Dresden, Budapest is the fourth city in the world in which significantly important works from the Erker period have entered a public collection.