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Barbara "Bobbie" Stauffacher Solomon unveils new large-scale graphic installation on the shores of Lake St. Moritz - FAD Magazine

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Barbara “Bobbie” Stauffacher Solomon unveils new large-scale graphic installation on the shores of Lake St. Moritz

Barbara-Stauffacher Solomon photo by Chris Grunder Courtesy the Artist & von Bartha Dec 2020

The municipality of St. Moritz has unveiled a new large-scale graphic installation by American artist Barbara “Bobbie” Stauffacher Solomon (b. 1928, USA) on the shores of Lake St. Moritz initiated by Serpentine’s Artistic Director Hans Ulrich Obrist as a project of the Serpentine Council. Entitled Welcome, the installation marks one of the first public artworks to be displayed in St. Moritz and will be on view until April 2023. 

Installation-image-3_Welcome-by-Barbara-Stauffacher-Solomon-in-St.-Moritz-©-fotoswiss-by-Giancarlo-Cattaneo_Courtesy-the-Artist-von-Bartha_Drone-images-with-permission-from-Airport-Samedan-
Installation image, Welcome by Barbara Stauffacher Solomon in St. Moritz © fotoswiss by Giancarlo Cattaneo Courtesy the Artist & von Bartha Drone images with permission from Airport Samedan
Installation-image-2_Welcome-by-Barbara-Stauffacher-Solomon-in-St.-Moritz-©-fotoswiss-by-Giancarlo-Cattaneo_Courtesy-the-Artist-von-Bartha_Drone-images-with-permission-from-Airport-Samedan
Installation image, Welcome by Barbara Stauffacher Solomon in St. Moritz © fotoswiss by Giancarlo Cattaneo Courtesy the Artist & von Bartha Drone images with permission from Airport Samedan

Standing at almost four metres high and 29 metres wide, Welcome is located at the entry point to the alpine town, close to the train station and the lake, acting as a symbol for the town’s hospitality and forward-thinking attitude. Incorporating Solomon’s self-created alphabet and typeface – the ‘BSS alphabet’, which the artist has designed and developed over the years, the installation has been crafted in a way that encourages the viewer to engage with each individual letter. This ‘supergraphic’ is neither lettering nor architecture but a hybrid form that has an astonishing spatial effect.

Hans Ulrich Obrist, Artistic Director, Serpentine said:

Bettina Korek, CEO of Serpentine and I are grateful to Serpentine’s Chair of Council, Elena Foster for engineering this fantastic project and to Barbara’s commitment. Barbara is an inspiration, a legend and a great mentor to us. Exploring the emotional effects of colours and her commitment to line and geometry, this new piece will be a remarkable contribution to the city and the Engadin region. It’s an honour to present this piece in St. Moritz.

Based in San Francisco, nonagenarian, Solomon belongs to a generation that popularized the aesthetics of Swiss design and typography in the USA. Solomon’s celebrated career was originally born out of necessity – after the artist became a widow and single parent early in life, she was invited to study graphic design in Switzerland as a means to be able to support her young family.

Barbara-Stauffacher-Solomon-her-daughter-Chloe-artist-Luchita-Hurtado-and-son-Matt-Mullican-March-1960-near-the-Italian-Swiss-border-in-the-Val-Bregaglia_Courtesy-the-Artist-von-Bartha-scaled
Barbara Stauffacher Solomon her daughter Chloe artist Luchita Hurtado and son Matt Mullican March 1960 near the Italian Swiss border in the Val Bregaglia Courtesy the Artist & von Bartha

In Basel in the 1950s, she was the first American at the Kunstgewerbeschule, studying under acclaimed designer Armin Hofmann. Moving back to the USA, the artist became involved with the Sea Ranch, an idealist coastal community famed for its stripped back architecture, which the artist’s logo and colourful design helped cement into the hearts and minds of designers everywhere. It was at Sea Ranch where she created her ‘supergraphics’ and went on to become a key figure in the modern design movement of the 1960s and 70s.

Welcome, sketch by Barbara Stauffacher Solomon, 2021_Courtesy the Artist & von Bartha
Welcome, sketch by Barbara Stauffacher Solomon, 2021 Courtesy the Artist & von Bartha
Installation-image-1_Welcome-by-Barbara-Stauffacher-Solomon-in-St.-Moritz-©-fotoswiss-by-Giancarlo-Cattaneo_Courtesy-the-Artist-von-Bartha_Drone-images-with-permission-from-Airport-Samedan
Installation image, Welcome by Barbara Stauffacher Solomon in St. Moritz © fotoswiss by Giancarlo Cattaneo Courtesy the Artist von Bartha Drone images with permission from Airport Samedan

The project has been realised by the municipality of St. Moritz under the direction of St. Moritz Tourism and in collaboration with Serpentine and the von Bartha Gallery and is generously supported by the Thomas and Doris Amann Foundation.

The work will also be spotlighted by the Engadin Art Talks (27-29 January 2023).

About the artist

The now 94-year-old Barbara Stauffacher Solomon – also known as “Bobbie” or “BSS” – is a
graphic artist, designer, architect and painter who lives in San Francisco. She first studied and
worked as a dancer, while studying painting and sculpture at San Francisco Art Institute. In the
1950s, she studied graphic design with the well-known graphic designer Armin Hofmann in
Basel, where she spent a year tracing the letters of the Helvetica typeface by hand. “Armin’s
in my head,” the artist says. “Everything I do is still as if Armin is over my shoulder watching,
saying ‘prima’ if it’s good.” Stauffacher later shaped the aesthetics of the legendary Sea Ranch
dropout project in California with her super graphics based on the Helvetica typeface, which
made her famous beyond the borders. She later studied Architecture at the University of
California, Berkeley, where she specialized in green architecture and was an instructor at
Harvard and Yale. Since 2021, the nonagenarian artist is represented by von Bartha gallery
(Basel / Copenhagen).

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