Walter Grab turned to Surrealism after traveling to Paris in the late 1940s. In 1950, heavily influenced by the visual worlds of Giorgio de Chirico, Salvador Dali, André Masson and René Magritte, he founded "Phoenix", a group of German and Austrian artists along with Swiss Surrealists Kurt Seligmann, Otto Tschumi and Ernst Maass. In the wake of the international resurgence of Surrealism, which had been presumed dead and consigned to the annals of art history, Grab soon gained recognition in Switzerland (especially Zürich) and Germany. In 1965 Walter Grab and Meret Oppenheim represented Switzerland in the Surrealismo e arte fantástica show at the 8th São Paulo Biennial.
Grab’s pictorial idiom and idiosyncratic style and technique are unmistakable: his constructive geometric elements are interlocked with figurative and narrative elements to form surreal scenes resembling stage sets. To show life in all its starkest contrasts was the Surrealist credo to which Grab, too, clearly subscribed. He became known as an enfant terrible of the art world, moreover, for his melancholy, irascible and addictive personality.
In addition to providing an unprecedented overview of Walter Grab's oeuvre, this catalogue also presents a wide range of different angles on his art, including subjective looks at individual works, art history essays and an associative correspondence using the cadavre exquis technique that was so dear to the Surrealists.
With texts by Jacqueline Burckhardt, André Grab, Stephan A. Hauser, Christoph Kappeler with Ulrich Kinder, Luc Robert, Julia Schallberger, Francisco Sierra, Dieter Wyss, and Stephan Zweifel in German.