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How Does He Do It?
The Mind Bending Work of Markus Raetz

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September/October 2001 > How Does He Do It?
How Does He Do It?
The Mind Bending Work of Markus Raetz


The University Museum of Contemporary Art is pleased to open its 2001-2002 season with an exhibit by Markus Raetz, one of Switzerland's most respected artists. The exhibition, which was organized by The Arts Club of Chicago, covers over 30 years of work and features a selection of the artist's sculptures, wall installations, drawings, and watercolors. The University Museum of Contemporary Art is the only other venue for the exhibit.

Since the 1960s, Raetz has created artworks that are both playful and complex in exploring how the mind identifies what the eye sees. He uses a variety of materials - leaves, cardboard, bronze, gesso - to make pieces that change from one shape to another as the viewer moves around them or that become visually legible at a particular spot and distance. In his sculpture Dryade (1985-88), for example, Raetz constructs an anamorphic image of a wood nymph's torso, the contours of which can only be seen as a whole from a specific position and with the help of a mirror.

Drawing has always been important to Raetz and several facsimile copies of his notebooks will be exhibited. The artist shows the same interest in perspectival systems as in his sculptural works, but here the subtle transformations and distortions are executed with simple lines or washes of color. Also included in the exhibition will be one of Raetz's wall drawings, Four Heads IX (1982-93), in which the artist creates a sequence of four delicate portraits using eucalyptus leaves and straight pins. Whatever the medium, his ultimate aim is to engage the viewer in a game of constantly shifting images that investigate the subjective nature of perception.

Markus Raetz was born in Büren an der Aare, Switzerland in 1941, and has lived mostly in Bern since 1963. He exhibits often in European galleries and museums such as the Musée Rath, Geneva (1994), the Museum of Contemporary Art, Helsinki (1994), and IVAM Centre Julio Gonzalez, Valencia (1993). Raetz represented his country at the São Paulo Biennale in 1998 and at the Venice Biennale in 1988. Until this exhibit, the only museum exhibitions of Raetz's work in the United States have been held at the San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art, La Jolla (1990) and at The New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York (1988).

Markus Raetz is on view at the University Museum of Contemporary Art September 15 through October 26 and November 3 through December 14. The opening reception will be Friday, September 14 from 5 to 7 p.m. with the artist in attendance.

The University Museum of Contemporary Art , located on the lower level of the Fine Arts Center, is open to the public Tuesday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 2 to 5 p.m. The Gallery is also open to audiences for evening performances held in the Concert Hall of the Fine Arts Center. For further information, please call (413) 545-3670 or visit the Gallery's web site at

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