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Exhibition ‘Two Gesslers - Two Worlds 1880-2012 Between Vision and Reality’

The exhibition introduces and compares two personalities: Dr. E. A. Gessler, father and weapons expert, and his son, the painter J. A. Gessler, known as Ge Gessler, in the context of an eventful era, 1880-2012.

Between Two Worlds – Future Vision by Ge Gessler, 1972
Between Two Worlds – Future Vision by Ge Gessler, 1972

From Thursday, 05 April 2018, 6:00pm
To Wednesday, 06 March 2019, 4:30pm

Library Am Guisanplatz, Papiermühlestrasse 21A, Bern
Fair, exhibition


Two Gesslers 1880–2012 Waffenkundler und Kunstmaler

The father, Dr. Eduard Achilles Gessler, 1880-1947, a historian, was a renowned weapons expert, scientist and author. He was the curator of the Swiss National Museum in Zurich for 35 years and hence from its beginnings. Through his in-depth knowledge of medieval weapons and his academic publications he made a significant contribution to developing the military collection and professionalising the young institution.

His son, Jörg Achilles Gessler (1924-2012), whose artist’s name was George or GeGe, was a set designer and later freelance painter. He leaves behind an extensive and diverse collection of works. His structured form and radiant colours ground from pigments have created a life’s work full of beauty and force.     

Two Gesslers – Two Worlds

Two remarkable personalities whose biographies together span more than one hundred years, are set against and in front of each other in their different environments.

The workplace of E. A. Gessler, the curator, and the restoration workshop were a source of inspiration for young Ge Gessler, who grew up in Zurich and often accompanied his father to the Swiss National Museum. It was here that the young man, who was later to become a painter, discovered his love of art, creating his own colours from pigments well into old age.

The two resembled each other not only in the meticulousness of their work but also, surprisingly, in their creative expression in verses, postcards and sketches, which Ge Gessler only discovered for himself many years after his father’s death.

Father and son loved and admired each other. However, caught between a love of weapons and the harm they could inflict, the two became estranged: given the events of the day, the young artist could not share his father’s historical or technical fascination for weapons. The horror they cause was reflected in Ge Ge’s paintings through the expression of pain and distress. The artist strived to make a clear statement through his images: compassion was the prevalent message of his expressive works.

Between Vision and Reality

The aim of the exhibition is to present a real-life story and to encourage reflection. The world of the humanistic but rather retrogressive weapons expert is placed face-to-face with the world of the emerging painter and his vibrant colours and sombre vision of the future. Two generations in a turbulent era, moving in two worlds. Two worlds that are reflected in pictures. A visit to the exhibition provides an insight into the life and work of the Gesslers, and into the conceptual world of father and son. It reminds the public in a personal way of the far-reaching work of the profound weapons expert, and explores the enthusiastic and colourful work of the painter.  



GeGessler Society

For the preservation of GeGe’s life’s work
Lanzenstrasse 10b, 8913 Ottenbach ZH
Telephone 044 761 83 80

Picture hiring and sales
Studio visits, exhibitions, society membership
You are warmly invited, please contact us


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Library Am Guisanplatz Information and Documentation Services
Papiermühlestrasse 21a
CH-3003 Bern
+41 58 464 50 95

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Library Am Guisanplatz

Information and Documentation Services
Papiermühlestrasse 21a
CH-3003 Bern