1879 - 1958
Creator, itinerant guide, sage
 
Exhibition
Harald Szeemann:
Museum of Obsessions


GETTY RESEARCH INSTITUTE

  • Kunsthalle Berne, Switzerland
    June 9  to Sept. 2, 2018
  • Kunsthalle Düsseldorf, Germany
    Oct. 10, 2018 to Jan. 20, 2019
  • Museo d’Arte Contemporanea Turin, Italy
    Feb. 26 to May 26, 2019

Also featuring Gusto Gräser:

Extract from the catalogue:

Gustav Gräser was a visual poet and prophet, an early conservationist and ecologist as well as a pacifist, originally influenced by Karl Wilhelm Diefenbach, a social reformer and communitarian, but also by Walt Whitman and Nietzsche. Skeptical of community life, Gräser moved from 1904 into a cave on the neighboring mountain. Around 1911 he left the area definitively and moved to Berlin.

He had a strong influence on Hermann Hesse (among others in the design of Siddhartha), after spending some time together in the remote cave above Monte Verità between 1906 and 1907. In the 1920s, Gräser then joined pacifist movements in Munich and traveled all the way to Sweden to preach his nature worship. He thus contributed to the birth of what would later in the 20th century to the hippie movement of the 60s and 70s, so Szeemann's own generation, should be. Gräser was also close to the "Wandervogel", a youth movement influenced, among others, by Nietzsche's ideas: people who rejected city life and evoked the return to a nature-loving, pagan life, worshiping the sun, for nudism, generally less restraining clothing and sexual liberation entered. But Nietzsche was missing in Szeemann's Monte Verità exhibition and was not even named as a source.
 

This page opens the door to Gusto Gräser's world
The poet and nature-prophet Gustav Arthur Gräser was a unique figure in the first half of the twentieth century. Intellectual leaders of his time saw him as the personification of the "new human being", the materialisation of the ideals of Nietzsche and Walt Whitman, and at the same time a new Francis of Assisi. His life outside the rules of civilisation was unconceivable for the people; it generated scandal and hatred. But for others he became an idol; poets like Hermann Hesse and Gerhart Hauptmann rose him to a mythical rank.
 
Most of his own poetry remained unpublished during his lifetime. He distributed epigrams and poems on postcards and handbills, calling mankind for a radical change. Today his image is linked above all to his creation, the "Mountain of Truth" or Monte Verità in Ascona, which has become the symbol of a nature-worshipping counter-culture free of violence.

Gräser was born on 16th February 1879 in Kronstadt, Transsylvania, and he died on 27th October 1958 in Freimann near Munich. Together with friends he created the society-reform colony on Ascona's vineyard. In "Public conversations" in major German cities he called for a cultural renewal. He left a life-work of poetry that revives fundamental human symbols.