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Trouvailles | Christoph Rütimann - "Chi ha detto che il giallo non é bello" (1983/89)

With the lovely and warm spring days we can enjoy here, I was eager to leave yesterday my home office for a walk and passed this great rape field. Having passed this field the incredible photo piece "Chi ha detto che il giallo non é bello" by the famous swiss artist Christoph Rütimann came to my mind. We had first showed this work in 1988 and most recently at Art Paris 2018.

Victor Gisler

In 1983, whilst running along the borderline of a field of rape and a fallow field towards the woods, Swiss artist Christoph Rütimann repeatedly threw his camera in the air and propelled it always higher yet towards the sky. As the automatic release was activated, the camera took pictures of every flight so that chance decided at what point of the trajectory the images would be captured. The brown field, the rich yellow color of the oil seed rape, the green wooded horizon and the deep blue of the cloudless sky are the spatial co-ordinates produced by the trajectories of the repeated throwing motion whereas the exact interval of the delay timer, as well as the approximate interval in between throws are determined by gravitation and the runner’s strength and speed. As a result, all intervals are superimposed. Both the position of the camera in the moment of being released as well as the focus of the whirling camera remain completely random.

Christoph Rütimann, Chi ha detto che il giallo non é bello (1983/89), 35 parts, each 72 × 102 × 5 cm

This was not the first time where Rütimann had experimented with a camera in motion; indeed in 1979, he had already strapped a camera to a luggage rack on a bus on the outskirts of Rome, and in 1982, he took photographs out of a driving train. In each case, movement is imprinted on the images, creating blurs, lines and distortions.

The very first image, which corresponds to the starting position of the camera, is almost an exact facsimile of the blue sky, the yellow and the brown fields and the green trees whereas all the following photographs show blurry versions of distorted landscapes where horizons and colors melt into each other. In fact, it even seems as if a big brush has applied rich paints of yellow, green, brown and blue across the photographic wall. Rütimann consciously creates strong parallels between his photographic work and the process of painting. Moreover, he equates landscape with a color palette and the camera with a paint brush. "I let the camera paint", he says. Thus, this photographic piece can be seen as his first intense exploration with the medium of painting, preparing the terrain for his under-glass paintings that he will work on later. Indeed, the reflections caused by glass as well as his reflections on color and painting will lead him to the idea and technique of under-glass paintings which he began to create in the same year.

Even the title "Chi ha detto che il giallo non è bello" refers to a painting, namely Barnett Newman’s Who’s afraid of Red, Yellow and Blue. Similarly to Newman, Rütimann deals with the emotional aspect of color by daringly stating "who said yellow is not beautiful". This rhetoric question certainly can be understood as his personal engagement with the color yellow as it is the color of the oil seed rape that enticed him, and subsequently, made him use yellow to shine through his later glass paintings.

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