at the Museum für Gestaltung
Where Art Meets Marketing
You can’t really miss them as you wander around town, and especially if you are near the Opera House; posters advertising upcoming productions of the Zurich Opera or the Zurich Ballet, with a single arresting image: a feather, a log, a pistol, a heart. Across the middle of the image the white letters of the name of the production: Macbeth, Swan Lake, The Montagus and the Capulets. The posters are the essence of simplicity, Zurich Opera or Ballet in the top left corner and the date of the production’s first night in the bottom left. No cast names, no directors, no prices, no clutter – everyone has access to a phone or laptop; if you need any more details you can look it up.
The images are produced as screen prints by François Berthoud, an artist who was born in 1961 in Le Locle, Jura, moved to Milan in 1982 to train and made his name in the fashion industry there as a painter and illustrator.
Each of the central images is decided upon in a round-the-table meeting of a committee of eight, including Berthoud and the intendant of Zurich Opera, Andreas Homoki. Guest directors are not included in this team, whose job is to find a single, simple image to connect the production with its potential audience.
Now we have the opportunity to see all four years of Berthoud’s posters, 48 of them, hung on the main wall of the Toni Areal (#4 tram), current home of the Museum fuer Gestaltung (Design Museum). This is fascinating because each of the central images has a connection with the production it is advertising: a wooden log for Macbeth, a champagne cork for La Bohème. These links, connections or symbols are sometimes amusing but not always easy to unravel, and this leads to some very interesting conversation and not a little testing of your knowledge of the story, with some ‘a-ha!….’ moments as your prize.
My advice: go with a friend or two, take a drink from the bistro, sit in front of the posters and see if you can work out the meaning of the symbols…..then go and see the show.
François Berthoud Opera House exhibition is on until 29th May 2016
at Nordwand, Schaudepot, Toni-Areal, Pfingstweidstrasse 96
Tuesday – Sunday: 10am – 5pm
Wednesday 10am – 8pm
For more information please visit the website.
With thanks to Clive Greaves for this article about the François Berthoud exhibition.
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