Geneva – Old Town, Statue in La Treille

Even though it was some distance I’d decided to walk home and leaving the Old Town I passed through “La Treille” (the Arbor), a pleasant, leafy tree covered “promenade” (i.e. walking area) overlooking the Parc des Bastions. Walking through I came across this statue of Charles Pictet de Rochemont. describes him as follows:

Charles Pictet de Rochemont, (born Sept. 21, 1755, Geneva, Switz.—died Dec. 28, 1824, Lancy), statesman and diplomat who prepared the declaration of Switzerland’s permanent neutrality ratified by the great powers in 1815.

After serving in the French army, Pictet settled in Geneva in 1789 and reorganized the militia. He was arrested during the Reign of Terror (1794) in Geneva following the French Revolution and subsequently was imprisoned. With the reestablishment of the Republic of Geneva after the retreat of Napoleon’s armies (1813), he resumed political activity, taking part in the provisional government created in December 1813.

In January 1814 Pictet argued on behalf of Geneva’s independence and union with the Swiss Confederation before the allied sovereigns at Basel and later obtained recognition of his canton’s independence in the Treaty of Paris (May 1814). In October 1814 he was delegated to the Congress of Vienna, where he helped secure Geneva’s attachment to the reconstructed Swiss Confederation; and at the Paris peace conference (August–November 1815) that followed Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo, he served as representative of the whole confederation. He personally redrafted the act that was accepted as the basis of permanent Swiss neutrality by the powers on March 20, 1815. His last diplomatic mission—to Turin (January–March 1816)—secured a rectification of the Swiss-Sardinian frontier (Treaty of Turin, March 1816).

Wikipedia provides additional information.

In the background you can just make out a bench. But this is not just any bench. It’s arguably the longest wooden bench in the world. According to Atlas Obscura:

Behind Geneva’s city hall is La Treille Park, a lovely and sunny square, whose perimeter is lined by (debatably) the longest wooden bench in the world. Built in 1767, the bench is 413 feet long, and made of 180 wooden boards.

The title for the world’s longest bench is evidently a prize highly sought. Many countries claim to have the longest bench of some sort – Spain says its Gaudi-inspired art-piece bench in Barcelona is the longest, Russia claimed to have had the longest painted bench, before it was broken into 100 different sections and spread throughout Moscow, and France claims to have the longest concrete bench which overlooks the sea in the city of Marseille.

No matter where the title truly lies, there is no question that this Swiss bench is the perfect spot to relax and take in the view of the Salève and Jura mountains under the shade of chestnut trees. It’s said that the chestnut’s first bloom announces the arrival of spring in Geneva.

Taken with a Sony RX-100 M3

Geneva – Old Town, Jeremie Statue

This statue of the Old Testament prophet, Jeremiah stands directly across from the St. Pierre Cathedral. It’s the creation of Auguste de Niederhäusern, better known as Rodo. According to Wikipedia:

Auguste de Niederhäusern, better known as Rodo (2 April 1863 – 21 May 1913) was a sculptor and medalist active in Switzerland and France.

Rodo was born in Vevey, and in 1866 moved with his family to Geneva. He attended the École des Arts industriels (1881) and the École des Beaux-Arts (1882) under the direction of Barthélemy Menn, then studied at the Académie Julian with Henri Chapu (1886) and again at the École des Beaux-Arts under Alexandre Falguière. For six years he worked in Auguste Rodin’s studio.

In 1895 he received a commission for the Paul Verlaine monument in the Jardin du Luxembourg, which was finally inaugurated in 1911. He died in 1913 during a visit to Munich.

On the occasion of an exhibition of his works in 2001 published a short article entitled: Geneva celebrates the “Hodler of sculpture”, which provides additional information.

Geneva – Old Town, Clementine Statue

I first photographed this mesmerizing statue sometime in the mid 1990s with a film camera. I’ve even posted about it before (see Statue in the Old Town). The main difference between these two pictures and the earlier one is that in the latter the girl is holding a flower in her hand. Apparently visitors often either place flowers in the girl’s hand(s) or leave them at the base. I didn’t know at the time who had created this statue. I’ve since discovered more about its creator and his intent.

According to the Official Site of the Town of Geneva (translated from the original French):

In the heart of the old town stands a teenage girl with a thin silhouette. This bronze statue by the Swiss artist Heinz Schwarz is part of the collection of the Fonds d’art contemporain of the City of Geneva (FMAC).

The delicate young girl who stands naked on Place du Bourg-de-Four is one of the most popular Geneva statues. She was baptized Clementine by the inhabitants of the district, probably because the statue almost opposite the cafe of La Clémence.

Harmonious forms of adolescence. Adolescence is one of Heinz Schwarz’s favorite subjects. He aims to capture this transitional moment between childhood and adulthood. According to him, this is the period of age when young girls have the purest forms.

A long limbed figure somewhere between energy and weakness. The teenager, with delicate curves and natural calm, amazingly combines energy and weakness: while her body measures more than a meter eighty, it seems to threaten to collapse due to its leanness. This extreme refinement of the body, proposed in several statues of the artist, is difficult to perform technically, for it is less voluminous than statues of more classical proportions.

A statue that denounces injustice. Many have become attached to this statue, which has come to symbolize issues related to female exploitation and child maltreatment.

Title: Clementine
Artist: Heinz Schwarz (Arbon / Switzerland, 1920 – Satigny / Switzerland, 1994)
Date of creation: 1974 (mold), 1975 (cast iron)
Description: sculpture in public space, statue
Technique and materials: bronze
Dimensions: 183x40x40 cm

The Talking Beautiful Stuff site has this to say about the statue in a post entitled: “The adolescent tragedies of Heinz Schwarz“:

From the lake edge, take yourself up to Place Bourg de Four in the old town. Prepare to have your heart-strings pulled!

Schwarz’s “Clementine” is much more than an exquisite statue. She is a symbol of solidarity for women and girls – especially those forced into prostitution – all over the world: the reason why there are often floral tributes strewn at her feet. Clementine is overpoweringly sad and beautiful in her budding adolescence. She is unspeakably delicate and stands fully and unashamedly naked. She is quiet but her vulnerability screams out. You can only weep for her innocence that has been or is soon to be brutalised. And Schwarz has evoked all this in bronze! Genius!

I have to wait to take my photograph because an obese man – to the amusement of his tourist friends – drapes an arm around Clementine’s shoulder and fingers her right breast. Digital shutters click amid giggles. My disgust wells inside. Clementine doesn’t flinch. She’s seen and felt it all before.

It’s ironic that a statue, which has come to symbolize the fight against female exploitation can itself be exploited in such vile ways by the moron mentioned above.

Geneva – Place de Longemalle, Two statues

As I walked around the Place de Longemalle I noticed a couple of statues that hadn’t been there the last time I’d visited. They stand outside the Opera Gallery and a sign indicates that they are the work of Andy Denzler. According to Wikipedia:

Andy Denzler trained at the Kunstgewerbeschule and the F&F Schule für Gestaltung in Zurich, both schools of applied arts, as well as at the University of California, Los Angeles, and the Art Center College of Design, Pasadena. In 2006 he graduated as Master of Fine Arts from London’s Chelsea College of Art and Design. Andy Denzler lives in Zurich.

Denzler’s works have been exhibited in one person shows and group shows in Europe and America, since 2010 also in Russia. In 2007, he was included in the exhibition “Kindheit” (Childhood) at the Museum Rohnerhaus in Lauterach, Austria. Works of his are owned, among others, by the Museum of Modern Art, Moscow, the White House in Washington DC, the Museum Würth in Schwäbisch Hall, the Burger Collection in Hong Kong, the White Cube Collection in London and the KunstWerk – Sammlung Klein in Eberdingen/Stuttgart.

Andy Denzler’s works move between abstraction and reality. With the classic means of oil painting, the artist endeavors to fathom the borderlines between fiction and reality. He presents his own perception of the world in his pictures. They are snap-shots of events that take place, blurred, distorted movements, Freeze Frames that stylistically move between Photorealism and Abstract Expressionism. In his paintings Denzler frequently alludes to other media. Titles and subject matter refer to films, as for instance in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest or Viktoria in The Birds. His “Motion Paintings” are divided into four groups of works: “Portraits”, “History Paintings”, “Figures & Landscapes” and “Urban Figures”. Andy Denzler translates them into painting, sculpture and drawing.

The bronze statues date to 2016. The one above is called “Liquid Walking Woman” and the one below, “Selfie”

Talking Beautiful Stuff provides a nice description in a post entitled Its Her Day:

I stroll through down-town Geneva. It is hot. Very hot. Every-language tourists swarm the luxury shrines to chocolate and watches. A stunning new bronze sculpture in Place de Longemalle stops me in my tracks. It is a young woman in hoody, cut-off denim shorts and trainers walking with confidence. She holds a smartphone. Like her living counterparts, she seems unaware of her allure or the conveniences brought by smartphone culture. She is constructed of horizontal segments re-stacked. The texture contrasts effectively with the smooth skin of the presumed model. Somehow, this sculpture captures the young woman of today. It is very beautiful and very gratifying.

I look around for the plaque that names the genius behind this work. Instead, I spot the same young woman only forty metres away. She has both feet firmly planted and her smartphone held up towards her other self striding to meet her. She has that small-screen look of concentration. Is she photographing her twin, taking a selfie, recording the street scene or checking her make-up? I am captivated by these works individually and as a pair. Finding them makes my day

I did not grow up in the internet era nor even with a mobile phone. Denzler’s subject cannot possibly know existence without a smartphone. It is also her camera, her street map, her address book, her pen and paper, her mirror, her compass, her library, her photo album, her stereo, her shopping mall, her magazines, her cinema and much more besides. Her friends and friends’ friends, real and virtual, are connected, categorized and communicated with by Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Whatsapp and Instagram. As for all of my generation, what mobile technologies bring to humanity is both fascinating and intimidating. Were I to find myself in conversation with Denzler’s young woman, I’d be interested to know whether she could conceive of life before smartphones. And if I said something stupid like “Well, in my day, we didn’t have such technology.” I am certain she would simply look up from the screen for a second or two, look my squarely in the eye and say politely “But it’s not your day!”