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Cuno Amiet - Stillleben mit Zitronen, 1908


Cuno Amiet - Stillleben mit Zitronen, 1908
Oil on canvas
55 x 60 cm

During his stay in Pont-Aven (1892-1893), Cuno Amiet found himself in the midst of avant-garde artistic circles, which encouraged him to experiment with new ways of depiction. He broke with academic tone painting and began to paint with pure colours in the Neo-Impressionist manner. On his return to the predominantly conservative-minded Switzerland, his new painting style initially met with criticism. Nevertheless, he remained devoted to his found form of artistic expression and was thus able to keep up with the European avant-garde movements.

In the Neo-Impressionist painting "Stillleben mit Zitronen", the pictorial effect is determined by a free use of colour and form as well as a dissolution of traditional perspective. A plate with two lemons is presented on a table board whose surface is shaped with a coarse blue brushstroke. A mask-like doll's head peeps out from behind a bulge in the blue tablecloth. Behind it a draped orange textile piles up, forming the centre of the picture and a wicker armchair with a green cushion represents the flat, indistinct background.
As in many pictures, Amiet relies in this still life on the effect of complementary contrasts: here, vibrant yellow tones contrast with a bright blue, and a darker orange with a harmonious shade of green.

About artist
Cuno Amiet
Solothurn, CH, 1886 — 1961

Cuno Amiet (28.3.1868, Solothurn - 6.7.1961, Oschwand) painted his first self-portrait at the age of 15. In 1884 he met the painter Frank Buchser, who became his teacher for the following two years. In the autumn of 1886, Amiet went to Munich and studied at the Academy of Fine Arts. In 1887 he met Giovanni Giacometti, who became his lifelong friend. The following year they travelled to Paris together and Amiet began his studies at the Académie Julian. From 1892, however, Amiet became increasingly dissatisfied with the academy classes and went to Pont-Aven, where he discovered Gauguin and van Gogh and laid the foundations for his colourism.
In 1894 he exhibited at the Kunsthalle Basel, but his use of pure colours was largely rejected by the art critics. In 1898 he was commissioned to make a portrait of Ferdinand Hodler, whereby an intense contact between these artists was created and Amiet began to be interested in Art Nouveau.
In 1905 Amiet had an exhibition at the Galerie Richter in Dresden, where the Brücke artists became aware of him. In 1906, Erich Heckel invited Amiet to become a member, and in the same year he took part in the first Brücke exhibition in Dresden.
In 1914 Amiet received a solo exhibition at the Kunsthaus Zurich with a display of 124 works. In 1919 he was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Bern. Today Cuno Amiet counts as one of the most important pioneers of classical modernism in Switzerland.