Heidi Bucher was a Swiss avantgarde artist best known for her sculptural moulding of objects and architectural spaces that unravel notions of individual and collective memory.Read More
Born Adelheid Hildegard Müller in Winterthur, Switzerland, Heidi Bucher studied at the School of Applied Art in Zürich in the 1940s. She exhibited her early silk collages and drawings in the mid-1950s, following some time spent in London. Travelling to the United States in 1956, Bucher was further shaped by contact with New York avantgardists like the Dutch painter Karel Appel and German photographer Hans Namuth.
Following her return to Zürich in 1960, and subsequent marriage to fellow artist Carl Bucher, Heidi Bucher came to know several figures of the European art world including Swiss architect Max Bill, critic Willy Rotzler, and art historian Erika Billeter. Her sculptural approach to the body emerged in the early 1970s in California in a collaboration with her husband titled Bodyshells (1972): a series of foam wearable sculptures that would also be used in a filmed performance.
From the 1970s, Heidi Bucher began embalming clothing and other textiles in latex and mother of pearl. Towards the end of the decade she began using this method to imprint household items and spaces. Initially focusing on objects and domestic spaces typically assigned as feminine, Bucher's works stand as a feminist critique and conceptual liberation from a patriarchal world.
An interest in memory-filled architectural spaces came to dominate Heidi Bucher's practice from the late 1970s to her passing in 1993. This manifested in her Hauträume (Roomskins): large-scale latex casts recording fragments of buildings of personal—and, later, public—significance. The casts were suspended partly torn in mid-air like ghostly architecture, evoking the human memories forever tied to these spaces.
Heidi Bucher's art works feature in prominent public collections around the world including The Museum of Modern Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York; the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles; Centre Pompidou in Paris; and the Kunst Museum Winterthur.
Heidi Bucher, Parasol unit foundation for contemporary art, London (2018); Heidi Bucher, Swiss Institute, New York (2014); Heidi Bucher, Centre culturel suisse, Paris (2013); Heidi Bucher: Mother of Pearl, Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Zürich (2004); Hauträume, Kunst Museum Winterthur (1983); Bodyshells, Los Angeles County Museum of Art (1972).
Sublime Anatomies, Palazzo delle Esposizioni, Rome (2019); Women House, National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, D.C. (2018); PerformanceProcess, Museum Tinguely, Basel (2017); Variable Dimensions, Pavillon de l'Arsenal, Paris (2015); It's All an Illusion: A Sculpture Project, Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Zürich (2004); La femme et l'Art, Trienniale Le Landeron, Switzerland (1983); Weich und Plastisch: Soft Art, Kunsthaus Zürich (1980).
Michael Irwin | Ocula | 2020