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The Search for Geissbuhler at Cape Cod Museum of Art

By Al Kochka. Art Historian


Help is sought from artists, collectors, and friends of Sculptor Arnold Geissbuhler -- From Paris, New York, and Cambridge, Provincetown or Dennis, MA.

Arnold Geissbuhler, born in Switzerland in 1897, as a sculptor, art instructor at Wellesley College and devoted family man. He lived and worked in Switzerland, Paris, New York, Cambridge, Provincetown and Dennis, MA. He was associated with some of the best known artists of the 20th century including Alberto Giacometti, Antoine Bourdelle, Otto Banninger, Edwin Dickinson, Massimo Campigli and Frederick Waugh.

Yet little is known of the artist and his body of work.

According to Al Kochka, art historian and a retired museum director, "this remarkable talent had received some recognition during his lifetime, but has slipped into near obscurity. I want to bring attention to Geissbuhler's contributions to art history and Cape Cod."

In 1981, Geissbuhler's son in law, Harry Holl, was one of the founders of the Cape Museum of Fine Arts, now Cape Cod Museum of Art. Geissbuhler donated 41 pieces of his artwork to form the core collection of the fledgling museum that would evolve into a year-round museum that represents the art of the entire Cape and Islands region.

According to Elizabeth Ives Hunter, executive director of CCMA, "Coming from Europe, Geissbuhler was steeped in the traditional method of sculpting, but he emerged from that period to break the rules and create abstract sculpture. In Geissbuhler,s body of work you can witness the movement from realism to abstraction that occurred during that period of art history."

After Al Kochka presented a lecture at CCMA on Arnold Geissbuhler - Images in Bronze - Mrs. Hunter asked him to head the Geissbuhler Research Project with the goal of producing a monograph on the life and work of the artist. "We also want to create a traveling exhibition with the work of Geissbuhler, Giacometti and Banninger," Mrs. Hunter added. "These three Swiss-born sculptors studied together, influenced each other, and made sculpture all of their lives."

As a young man studying with Antoine Bourdelle in Paris, Geissbuhler met another student, Elisabeth Chase of Dennis, MA. They fell in love, married in Boston in 1927, and returned to Paris. Elisabeth Chase Geissbuhler became recognized as a Rodin scholar and translated Rodin's masterpiece The Cathedrals of France.

After traveling extensively and exhibiting in Paris, New York, and Boston, the Geissbuhlers resided in Provincetown from 1934 - 1937. He taught drawing and sculpture at Wellesley College, MA from 1937 to 1958. In 1964, Geissbuhler was part of an exhibition in Paris that included Giacometti, Banninger, and other "Students of Bourdelle." In 1970, the Geissbuhlers established residence and a sculpture studio in Dennis, MA. Arnold Geissbuhler died in 1993 at the age of 96.

Anyone with information about the artist or his work is asked to contact the msuem

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