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Past Exhibitions
150th Anniversary of Diplomatic Relations between Japan and Switzerland
Ferdinand Hodler: Towards Rhythmic Images

150th Anniversary of Diplomatic Relations between Japan and Switzerland
Ferdinand Hodler: Towards Rhythmic Images

Tuesday 7 October 2014 - Monday 12 January 2015
9:30 am – 5:30 pm
Fridays and Saturday 1 - Sunday 2 November 9:30 am - 8:00 pm (Admission ends 30 mins. before closing time)
Mondays except 13 October, 3 November and 24 November and 12 January.
Closed on14 October, 4 November, 25 November.
28 December to 1 January.
Organized by
The National Museum of Western Art, NHK, NHK Promotions Inc.
Co-Organized by
Kunstmuseum Bern
With the support of
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, Embassy of Switzerland in Japan
With the special cooperation of:
Musée d’art et d’histoire, Ville de Genève
With the sponsorship of
Swiss-Re Group, Dai Nippon Printing Co., Ltd., Chugai Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd.
With the assistance of
The Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia
With the cooperation of
Switzerland Tourism, Swiss International Air Lines, Nestlé Japan, Lufthansa Cargo AG., Jungfrau Railways Group, The Western Art Foundation
Admission Fees
Adults 1,600 yen, College students 1,200 yen, High school students 800 yen
Advance purchase/Discount fees for groups of 20 or more
Adults 1,400 yen, College students 1,000yen, High school students 600 yen
Advance purchase tickets will be on sale until Monday 6 October. At the museum ticket office, advance ticket will be available until Sunday 5 October.
For ticket sales from other than the museum's own ticket office, see the exhibition website.External link
Full admission fees apply from Tuesday 7 October.
Junior high school and younger children admitted free of charge.
Disabled visitors admitted free of charge with one attendant. Please present your disability identification upon arrival.
Number of visitors

Ferdinand Hodler (1853–1918) was a major Swiss painter active from the end of the 19th century through the beginning of the 20th century. Unlike later Swiss artists, such as Paul Klee and Alberto Giacometti, Hodler remained in Switzerland his entire life. Hodler lent his hand to a large number of major interior design projects and throughout his life painted images of the Alpen scenery around him, so that today he is known in as “the Swiss national painter.” In recent years, solo exhibitions of Hodler’s works held in France and the United States have meant an increasing amount of international recognition of Hodler’s arts.

Hodler was born in the mid 19th century to a poor family in the Swiss capital of Bern. Tragically, at an early age Hodler lost both his parents and his siblings. Advancing forward from these tragedies, Hodler moved to Geneva where he began his painting career. The paintings of the first half of his career often included images of death and melancholy, and many read the painter’s unfortunate early history in these images. And yet, in the first few years of the 20th century the focus of Hodler’s paintings changed from death to life. There were forms of dancing people, emotions given physical expression in their forms, and the rhythm born from linking those forms and emotions. He even began to infuse the inorganic elements of the natural world, whether the Alps or clouds, with a sense of life force, a sense of rhythm. This painter who heralded his own unique art theory he dubbed Parallelism -- focusing not on what can be seen with the eyes, but rather the forms and principles that create that visible form -- moved as a result beyond simple reproductive images, trying to elicit the dynamic principles and rhythms in the world.

Vassily Kandinsky named Hodler and Paul Cézanne as two painters who brought about a change in painting history from “melodic compositions” to “rhythmic compositions.” This exhibition will both carefully consider Hodler’s oeuvre and explore the theme of rhythm in his paintings, and thus find a new way of reading and interpreting Hodler’s arts. If we also consider how Hodler’s paintings resonated with the modern dance philosophy that appeared during his lifetime, we can also physically experience firsthand the rhythm found in Hodler’s works.

This exhibition traces the entirely of Hodler’s work through a selection of approximately 100 oil paintings and drawings lent by major Swiss museums and collectors, including the Kunstmuseum Bern. This is the first major retrospective of Hodler’s works held in Japan in almost four decades. We hope that it will provide those familiar with Hodler as well as those first encountering him with a new understanding and appreciation of his art and philosophy.

Lectures and Slide Talks will be also held at a museum. Please visit each page for details.

Exhibition checklist (PDF File, about 152KB) PDF