Every three years, the renowned spa destination of Bad Ragaz puts on a new face.
Bad RagARTz is Europe's largest open-air sculpture exhibition. This year, more than half a million visitors have pilgrimaged there to enjoy the seventh edition. The sculpture festival features more than 400 sculptures weighing a total of 2’400 tons.
What Bad RagARTz is all about
For years, I have been hearing about this grand art exhibit in Bad Ragaz. But I never felt compelled to make my way there - until recently. What moved me was that this year, the sculpture extravaganza comes with a special twist: a multimedia light spectacle called Light Ragaz, projected on the rock walls of the nearby Tamina Gorge. It was time for us to attend to our artistic side.
There is quite literally tons of art!
In Bad Ragaz and neighboring Vaduz, 77 female and male artists from 17 countries are responsible for the more than 400 art works on exhibit at the 7th Swiss Sculpture Triennial. Tipping the scale at a respectable 2’400 tons total, they average over 5 tons each!
The exhibition is the brain child of the Bad Ragaz couple of Rolf and Esther Hohmeister. They started it about 20 years ago and are still its co-organizers. Rolf Hohmeister is not only a rheumatologist at the Bad Ragaz medical center, but also a passionate art collector and art lover.
Over the past two years, Hohmeister sifted through more than 1’500 submissions (!) for the sculpture park. With this year's snail motto of "Haste makes waste - tarry a while", the Hohmeisters take art out of the museums into the open. It is freely available to the public and surely gets the conversation going in a big way…
The fascinating story behind the Swiss Christ the Redeemer
The organizers definitely succeeded with the last triennial. This is when they caused heads to explode from Bad Ragatz all the way to Saudi Arabia with their "lighthouse" Cristo Salvador sculpture.
Today, a lighthouse stands on top of the Guschakopf, a local mountain in Bad Ragaz. But three years ago, the statue of Christ the Redeemer was placed there, becoming the most discussed art work of the show. (Some 30’000 visitors signed the guest book at the top of the mountain!)
The Bad Ragaz Town Council, however, was against a permanent installation of Cristo Salvador on the top of their backyard mountain. At the time, there was talk of a sale to Saudi Arabia.
That prospect, in turn, stirred up the brave citizens of the neighboring Pfäfer village: in no time, they had Cristo helilifted into the airy garden of Hotel Schloss Wartenstein. Since then, he extends his protective hands over the Rhine Valley and the Tamina Valley from up there.
Check out our favorite sculptures from Bad RagARTz 2018
The sculpture walk extends more than six miles from the Bad Ragaz village center past the golf course to the spa area. Even from a distance, we notice those larger-than-life, intensely yellow snails. And as we roll into the town of Bad Ragaz, we realize that the snails have left their trails everywhere...
They are along the roads and promenades, in the parks and even on building walls. Evidently, the snails are the mascot of Bad RagARTz 2018:
This piece by Manfred Kielnhofer of Austria is called "Guardians of Time":
"Brainstorm" by Carla Hohmeister of Switzerland, with "Move" by Jörg Plickat of Germany in the background:
"Kubik III" is a walkable work made of a semi-transparent cube of metal rods. It is by Werner Bitzigeio of Germany:
"Polonaise" are concrete figures by Christel Lechner of Germany:
A sculpture by Pieter Obels of the Netherlands:
"Cultivator II" by Thomas Schönauer of Germany:
"La Linea del Tempo" by Silvio Santini:
Gigantic bronze sculptures by Helga Vockenhuber of Austria:
A sculpture on the golf course by Roger Rigorth of Germany/Switzerland:
Some carved wooden figures at the Gladys Golf Restaurant:
Now, here are some permanent sculptures from the Grand Resort's park, including this one by Xavier Mascarò:
Or this one by Kurt Laurent Metzler:
And finally, a sculpture by Werner Mally in front of the Grand Resort Spa Tower:
More information about Bad RagARTz
The 7th Swiss Triennial of Sculpture runs from May 5 to Nov 4, 2018. Visit the website for additional information.