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Eranos Yearbook 71: 2012
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Windows on Eternity - The Paintings of Peter Birkhäuser
Windows on Eternity -   The Paintings of Peter Birkhäuser
Printed book: $49.00
quick purchase (only in the USA)

Eva Wertenschlag-Birkhäuser

Windows on Eternity

The Paintings of Peter Birkhäuser

200 pages, with 53 color plates, ISBN 3-85630-715-X / 978-3-85630-715-8, Daimon

With an Essay by Marie-Louise von Franz

Many of the dream images painted by Swiss artist Peter Birkhäuser (1911-76) portray the big problems of our time, as experienced one individual: our divisiveness, possession by unconscious factors, suffering from the loss of religious values, the “unknown God” knocking at the door and wanting to enter, our inability to understand evil, the world of the feminine yearning for redemption, and so on.

Because the paintings of Birkhäuser come from the deep wells of dreams and give them authentic form, they are mirrors of healing processes in the soul. Marie-Louise von Franz said of Birkhäuser’s work: “His paintings are not depictions of his own problems, but rather seek to reveal what is taking place in the depths of the collective unconscious in all of the people of our time. Because of this, they are not easy to decipher: they are simply there, and wish to be experienced”.

Peter Birkhäuser's paintings frequently give form to overwhelming contents from the collective unconscious whose sense only becomes apparent when seen in the context of the spiritual predicament of our times. Birkhäuser was uniquely sensitive to the subliminal issues of the age. His whole career demonstrated that his special calling as an artist was to dedicate his abilities to a greater creative spirit and use his art to reveal, not only the crisis and infirmity of our times, but more importantly the reactions and healing impulses of the autonomous psyche. His pictures act as mirrors of the soul, where things hidden within us and our age become visible. In the major themes of the paintings we can observe something resembling a collective process of individuation. This is religious art, a manifestation of an image of God originating in the unconscious, striving to become real as part of a new consciousness. The artist's own personal individuation process becomes a gestation in paintings that circumscribe the birth of a new myth.

This book is an attempt to track down the meanings of the mysteries in the work of Peter Birkhäuser. Included are 53 reproductions of paintings by the artist.

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Der rote Faden (Finding the Thread)

An exhibition to mark the 100th birthday of the artist Peter Birkhäuser (1911-1976)

20 May – 10 June 2011, projektraum M54, Basel


“Something was thwarting me, and shattering my conscious

ideals. Only later could I recognise the meaning of it.”

(P. Birkhäuser 1975)


Midway through his life, the Basel artist and graphic designer Peter Birkhäuser encountered an inner reality unknown to him. This completely transformed his painting, and led to a new outlook on life. Peter Birkhäuser’s work expresses the myth of modern, divided man searching for meaning. Towards the end of his life, the artist looked back on his inner path in the manuscript “Der rote Faden” (Finding the Thread).

The exhibition follows this “thread” from the early images and graphics – with well-known posters – through his magic realism phase up to the dream paintings.

Organised by the Birkhäuser-Oeri Foundation

Official opening: Friday 20 May 2011, 5 pm, -- You and your friends are cordially invited

Location: projektraum M54, Mörsbergstrasse 54, 4057 Basel

Opening Times: Tuesday through Thursday 2 - 7 p.m. / Friday 2 - 8 p.m. / Saturday and Sunday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Guided tours open to all every Saturday & Sunday at 2 p.m.

Travel: From Basel SBB railway station via bus number 30 to Feldbergstrasse

Information: www.birkhaeuser-oeri.ch

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Authors Info
Eva Wertenschlag-Birkhäuser

Show all titles by Eva Wertenschlag-Birkhäuser

Eva Wertenschlag-Birkhäuser, born in Basel, Switzerland, is a Jungian analyst in private practice in Berne. She is President of the Research and Training Centre for Depth Psychology (Zurich) and is active there as a faculty member and a training analyst.
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