Foundation Ernst Scheidegger Archive

Ernst Scheidegger – Life and Career

Born on 30th November in Rorschach.

Moves to Zurich, attends schools in Zurich.

Preliminary studies at Art School in Zurich. Influential teachers are Alfred Willimann, Walter Roshard, Max Gubler.

Trains as window dresser at Jelmoli Department Store, Zurich. His teacher at vocational school, Rudolf Bircher, has a significant influence on him. Undertakes military training and active service. Makes the acquaintance of Alberto Giacometti.

Window dresser at Schoop textile firm in Zürich. Takes up painting. Subsequently presents works at various solo and group exhibitions.

Takes course in photography at Art School in Zurich. Teachers Hans Finsler, Alfred Willimann, Max Bill (study of form), tobacco vendors at football grounds, graphic art and photographic work commissioned by his former teacher Rudolf Bircher. Trips abroad: Holland, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia.

Assistant to Max Bill, works in studio of Werner Bischof in Zurich, for whom he produces enlargements of his Eastern Europe pictures and the design of the illustrated book „Japan".

Exhibition designer for the Marshall Plan in Paris: Poster campaigns and traveling exhibitions throughout Western Europe to promote the economic recovery of postwar Europe. Drafts a new graphic concept for the French art magazine „XXe Siècle", which also published texts and photographs by Scheidegger. Close links to Parisian art world: Georges Vantongerloo, Alberto Giacometti, Joan Miro, Henri Laurens, and particularly the artists of the Aimé Maeght Gallery, for whom he designs book publications and catalogs.

Freelance photo-journalist for Magnum agency in Paris; trips to Middle East, India and Far East. His features appear in „Life", „Picture Post", „Collier's", „Paris Match", „Stern", „Holiday" etc. Max Bill proposes Scheidegger as lecturer in communication for his School of Design planned in Ulm. Camera work and public relations in Egypt for Gregory Ratloff’s film „A Kindom for a Woman" and John Huston’s „Moby Dick" in Ireland. Unhappy about the powerlessness of photo-reporters vis-à-vis magazine picture editors, Werner Bischof and Scheidegger plan to make documentary films for up-and-coming television. Their idea is supported by Robert Capa, head of Magnum.  The medium of film was seen as guaranteeing greater control over their work. However, this project came to an abrupt end with the deaths Werner Bischof and Robert Capa.

Lecturer in Visual Design at the School for Design in Ulm.

Collaborates with Vilhelm Wohlert, undertakes preparatory work for establishing the National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad commissioned by the Ford Foundation and Indian government. First solo exhibition as a photographer at Ulm Museum (1958). Develops the concept for and publishes the book series „Horizont" of the Zurich publishing house Arche which features Joan Miro, Hans Arp, Marino Marini and Alberto Giacometti – the very first book publication on the work of these artists. Procures material for the exhibition „Malende Dichter – Dichtende Maler" („Painter-Poets – Poetic-Painters") at the Art Museum St.Gallen; publisher of the catalog (1957). Develops concept and prepares the traveling exhibition „Das Schweizer Buch" („The Swiss Book") at Helmhaus in Zurich, then in several European cities and Tokyo (1961).

After these travels abroad, he returns to living in Zurich; takes over from Gotthard Schuh as editor of the weekend supplement of „Neue Zürcher Zeitung". During that period he produces some two hundred of photo-features, often in the latter years together with NZZ correspondent and Middle East specialist Arnold Hottinger.

Launches his own publishing house in Zurich with Jean Genet’s first book on Alberto Giacometti.

From 1962 onwards
Documentary films on visual artists for Swissair and also from 1980 to 1984 numerous films on art topics for Swiss television.

Starts shooting a documentary film about Alberto Giacometti. He completes it as 25-minute version in 1966 and Alberto Giacometti gets to see the film just one day before his death in the same year. In the ‘70s the film was extended to 50 minutes on the initiative of Aimé Maeght.

Chief graphic artist of the section „L'art de vivre – Bilden und gestalten" („The art of Living – Visualizing and Shaping") designed by Max Bill for Expo'64 in Lausanne.

Quality award of the Swiss Interior Departement for Outstanding Films for the film „Alberto Giacometti".

Film prize of the city of Zurich for the film „Alberto Giacometti".

Opening of his own art gallery in Zurich.

The volume „Spuren einer Freundschaft / Alberto Giacometti" („Traces of a Friendship / Alberto Giacometti") is published by Verlag Ernst Scheidegger and provides an overview of Scheidegger’s interest in Giacometti.

Works on a film commissioned by the Deutsche Bank Frankfurt about the sculpture „Continuität“ by Max Bill.

Exhibition at Kunsthaus Zurich on Ernst Scheidegger’s entire oeuvre. It is accompanied by the volume „Ernst Scheidegger". Exhibition in Josef Albers-Museum in Bottrop. End of gallery activities.

Photographic exhibition on Joan Miro in the Galerie Maeght in Paris and Barcelona. Publication of „Spuren einer Begegnung. Joan Miró in Katalanien" („Traces of an Encounter. Joan Miró in Catalania") Verlag Ernst Scheidegger.

Exhibition at Casa Serodine in Ascona and Galerie Haasner in Wiesbaden.

Traveling exhibition organized by the Pro Helvetia Foundation with a photographic section on the works of Ernst Scheidegger at the Kunsthaus Zurich -1991/92 in Bordeaux, India and Pakistan (Ahmedabad, New Dehli, Bombay, Karachi, Islamabad, Lahore).

Launch of the book „Bergell – Heimat der Giacomettis“ („Bergell – Home of the Giacomettis) by the publishing house Verlag Ernst Scheidegger.

Premiere of the 2-part film on Max Bill.

Heiner Spiess joins Ernst Scheidegger Publishers, which is renamed Verlag Scheidegger & Spiess (together with Heiner Spiess). Photographic exhibition in Istres, near Marseille.

„The Giacomettis" – exhibition at the Art Museum Thun, later at the Fondation Maeght in St.Paul de Vence.

Alberto Giacometti exhibition at the Kunsthalle Schirn,  Frankfurt, with photos by Ernst Scheidegger in a separate room.

The book „Einblicke, Begegnungen mit Künstlern des 20. Jahrhunderts" („Insights, Encounters with Artists of the 20th Century") is published by Verlag Scheidegger & Spiess.

Exhibition at Museum der Casa Milà (La Predeira) in Barcelona as part of the Alberto Giacometti exhibition.

Photographic exhibition „Alberto Giacometti" in 16 Chinese museums (Shanghai, Peking etc). The book „Spuren einer Freundschaft / Alberto Giacometti" („Traces of a Friendship / Alberto Giacometti") appears in the Chinese language.

Scheidegger is awarded the French title «Officier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres» at Centre Pompidou, Paris.

In the same year, to mark the 100th birthday of Alberto Giacometti, the Neue Zürcher Zeitung publishes the portfolio „Alberto Giacometti by Ernst Scheidegger, presented at the Galerie E.W. Kornfeld in Zürich. Photo exhibition as part of the jubilee exhibition „Alberto Giacometti" at the Kunsthaus Zurich and Museum of Modern Art in New York – at the same time, exhibition at the Swiss Institute in New York – subsequently at Museum of Art in Atlanta.

Exhibition „Ernst Scheidegger – Photos" at the Centro Culturale Svizzero in Venice.

Scheidegger is awarded the Heinrich Wölfflin Medal of the city of Zurich for services to art. At the same time, exhibition „Homage to Ernst Scheidegger" at Museo La Torre di Maloja.

Display of a large collection of photos as part of the exhibition „Alberto Giacometti" at the Hungarian National Museum, Budapest.

„Paris sans fin" („Paris without End")– an exhibition staged by the Kunsthaus Zurich with works by Alberto Giacometti and photos by Scheidegger that traveled to several museums: in Krakau, Bratislava, Czesky Crumlow, Moscow, St. Petersburg, Singapore, Dubrovnik.

Exhibition of color photographs and color film-stills at the Musée Garnet in Aix en Provence; exhibition „Georges Vantonergloo" at the Musée Matisse in Cateau-Cambrésis, subsequently in Ostende till 2008.

Exhibition „Max Bill – on his hundredth birthday" at Kunstmuseum and Arts and Gewerbemuseum Winterthur. Exhibition at Haus Konstruktiv Zürich „Max Bill – 100" – At the same time presentation of the portfolio „Max Bill" (published by the Neue Zürcher Zeitung).

Publication of the portfolio Alberto Giacometti by the Fondation Beyeler, Riehen. Exhibition of a large number of photographs (approx. 50) at the Hans Arp Museum Bahnhof Ronaldseck in Remagen.

Publication of the book „Chandigarh 1956 – Le Corbusier", published by Stanislaus von Moos with approx. 160 photos (some in color) by Ernst Scheidegger. Exhibition „Alberto Giacometti – Der Ursprung des Raums" („Alberto Giacometti – The Origins of Space") at the Museum Wolfsburg with a separate room for photographs by Ernst Scheidegger; subsequently the same exhibition at the Museum der Moderne in Salzburg.

Creation of the foundation „Ernst Scheidegger-Archiv" based in Zurich. Ernst Scheidegger becomes president of the foundation.

Ernst Scheidegger’s archive is taken over by the foundation „Ernst-Scheidegger-Archiv" from the Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Exhibition „Phototypien Ernst Scheidegger" at the Galerie am Hirschengraben in Zurich. The Swiss Ministry of Culture awards Scheidegger the Design Prize of Switzerland in Lausanne. This makes him only the second Swiss photographer after Robert Frank to receive this award.

The gouvernement of the Kanton Zürich awards Ernst Scheideigger with the "Golden Medal of Honour".

The Museum of Art in Paderborn dedicades an exhibition to the graphic work of Joan Miro and includes 12 photos by Ernst Scheidegger to the exhibition.

Exhibition of photos from Alberto Giacometti together with sculptures and pictures in the Pinacoteca do Estado de Sao Paulo, in the Museu de Arte Moderna do Rio de Janeiro as well as in the Fundacion Proa de Buenos Aires.

New edition of the book "Alberto Giacometti - Traces of a friendship" with color-photos, that were never published before.

"Alberto Giacometti - the playgrounds", an exhibition of the Hambruger Kunsthalle shows some 15 photos of Ernst Scheidegger. Photos of Scheidegger are also on display at the same time in the Bucerius Forum of Art in an exhibition entiteld "Alberto Giacometti - Encounters"

Passed away on February 16, 2016 in Zurich.


Compiled by: Claudia Hürlimann and Georg Sütterlin, revised by Christian Dettwiler in 2011.