Press Release: "A Family of Artists between Insider and Outsider Art", August 29, 2021–February 13, 2022, Museum im Lagerhaus, St. Gallen
A Family of Artists between Insider and Outsider Art:
Robert, Miriam, Manuel, Gilda Müller & Giovanni Abrignani
August 29, 2021–February 13, 2022
PRESS PREVIEW: Friday, August 27, 2021, 1:30 p.m.
with the artists Manuel and Gilda Müller and the director of the museum, Monika Jagfeld
OPEN DAY: Sunday, August 29, 2021, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
with an introduction of Rainer Michael Mason: 11 a.m.
The famous iron sculptor Robert Müller (1920–2003) shows little known aspects of his work with his drawings created in 1975 in the Cery Psychiatric Clinic, Lausanne. In the hospital in Trapani (IT) he discovered the work of the Art Brut artist Giovanni Abrignani (1899–1977). His son Manuel Müller (*1955) is a self-taught wood sculptor and internationally respected in the world of Outsider Art. In contrast, the seemingly surrealistic pictures of his mother Miriam Müller Shir (1926–2007), a goldsmith from New York, are still a new discovery. The graphic artist Gilda Müller (*1992), Manuel Müller’s daughter, who dedicates herself to mystical in-between worlds, joins this family circle between insider and Outsider Art.
Families of artists have a special dynamic, especially when the artists shift between insider and Outsider Art. They all have their unmistakable identity, and yet their family ties are evident in their use of specific techniques and materials, in related topics, or in an existential attitude.
Between Insider and Outsider Art
Robert Müller (1920–2003) became famous as ‘Iron Müller,’ and his iron sculptures were shown at international exhibitions, including the biennales in Venice and São Paulo as well as documenta. When he turned away from the art business in 1975, he not only fell into a deep crisis that led him to psychiatric clinics in Trapani, Italy and Cery near Lausanne, but he also catapulted himself outside the artistic establishment with the works that he created there. After all his successes, he sought to find himself and his expression in his inner emigration.
At the same time, he discovered the work of the Art Brut artist Giovanni Abrignani (1899–1977) in Trapani, which he immediately bought up, fascinated by his free imagery.
Portraits of his wife Miriam Müller Shir (1926–2007) reflect their relationship, while Miriam Müller’s own surreal miniature pictures consistently show autobiographical and family references, which makes them reminiscent of Frida Kahlo. Her work is also outside the established art world and remains to be discovered by a broader audience. Having grown up in New York, she was a promising young painter as well as a goldsmith by training when she met Robert Müller in Paris and married him in 1954. The curator Harald Szeemann maintained a close connection to the couple, and their friendship is immortalized in a small gold work by Miriam.
Their son Manuel Müller (*1955) is a self-taught wood sculptor and internationally renowned in the world of Outsider Art. Perhaps to differentiate himself from his well-known father, or perhaps skeptical of the art market after his father’s disillusionment, he never entered the art business and always takes his own artistic path. While there are parallels between father and son, he feels closer to his mother’s nature and work.
Gilda Müller (*1992), Manuel’s daughter, contributes her own drawings of mystical worlds to the family’s prodigious output. She also inherited a love of old books from her grandfather via her father.
About the Exhibition
In 2017 the Kunstmuseum Solothurn presented the exhibition ‘Eine Künstlerfamilie. Robert, Miriam und Manuel Müller’ with an emphasis on their independent positions. The Museum im Lagerhaus will now expand on this topic with a crossover between insider and Outsider Art, placing the works in dialogue with one another.
Curator: Dr. Monika Jagfeld, Director
Programme may be subject to change due to Covid-19 restrictions. Further information: www.museumimlagerhaus.ch
Museum im Lagerhaus
Dr. Monika Jagfeld
phone 0041 71 223 58 57
Press Release and images:
Tue to Fri 14–18 Uhr
Sat / Sun / Bank Holidays 12–17 Uhr
closed: 24, 25, 31 December 2021 and 1 Januar 2022
Kindly supported by:
Kanton St. Gallen Kulturförderung | Swisslos
Stadt St. Gallen
Kulturförderung Appenzell Ausserrhoden
Hans und Wilma Stutz Stiftung
Walter und Verena Spühl-Stiftung
Museum im Lagerhaus Stiftung für schweizerische Naive Kunst und Art Brut Davidstrasse 44 9000 St. Gallen Switzerland