Art in the Ursen Valley

Lori Hersberger’s “Totem”

Lori Hersberger studied video art and sculpture at the Basel School of Design. Following his studies, he began to create installations using a variety of materials, like fluorescent paint, neon light, chrome steel and mirror glass, including for “Totem”. His biggest success to date was the solo exhibition “Lori Hersberger - Phantom Studies” at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Lyon in 2008. He has received numerous awards, including the Swiss Art Award (1999 and 2000) and the Manor Art Prize Basel (2001), and his works can be found in collections in Europe and the United States.

In addition to Totem, the Urseren Valley is home to other sculptures and artworks, both by locals and by internationally renowned artists.

Heinrich Danioth’s “The Devil and the Billy Goat”

The Uri painter and poet Heinrich Danioth began his career in 1916. He caused quite a sensation when he returned home in 1927 from his travels abroad. In addition to many new impressions, he also brought expressionism to the canton of Uri. His works became increasingly well known over the years, which also led to several large commissions. One of these is “The Devil and the Billy Goat”, which he painted in 1950 on a rock face in the Schöllenen Gorge, directly above the Devil’s Bridge. The work was controversial among the residents of Uri. A petition was launched to have the wall painting removed. “They prefer a more beautiful devil, and so they want this devil to go to hell,” wrote the satire magazine “Nebelspalter”. In 1955 the original painting had to give way in the course of detonations to build the new national highway, leaving only the devil's head and trident in place. It was decided to give the devil a new spot in 1961. The wall painting was repainted somewhat higher than the original location. Ever since, the Devil and the Billy Goat has occupied an uncontested spot on the steep rock face above the gorge with the roaring Reuss river below. The painting was restored in 2021, and now the devil once again flaunts in red dress above the Devil’s Bridge.

Ugo Rondinone’s “Steinmandli”

The first thing that visitors see when they arrive in Andermatt is the Steinmandli, or in English, the “Little Stone Man”. With a height of seven metres and weighing 22 tonnes, the colossus stands in the rotary at the entrance to the village. The internationally renowned Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone was commissioned to create the work by the Egyptian visionary Samih Sawiris, who wanted a new landmark for Andermatt. Sawiris was personally on hand when the Steinmandli was unveiled on 18 May 2017.

The sculpture symbolises the link between new and old, between near and far. The Steinmandli is thus a perfect fit for Andermatt, where these worlds come into contact with each other every day. The artist originally called his work “Human Nature”. It was intended to reflect the simplicity and raw power of the mountain landscape. Set amidst the Swiss Alps, the impressive Steinmandli becomes one with nature.

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