The clear world of the blessed returns to light

A 9-metre circular painting made up of 16 canvases with 84 male nudes set in an idyllic earthly paradise is a unique historical and artistic testimony

Ascona – With the conclusion of the restoration of the Elisarion Pavilion – which together with Casa Anatta, Casa Selma and Casa dei Russi makes up the Monte Verità Museum Complex – on 1 April 2021 this extraordinary place, which since its foundation has hosted some of the most extraordinary personalities of European culture of the last century, will reopen to the public.

The conservative restoration of the entire complex, directed by architects Gabriele Geronzi and Carlo Zanetti, will conclude by bringing Elisàr von Kupffer’s polyptych The Clear World of the Blessed back to light, thanks to a restoration carried out by Petra Helm and Christian Marty, promoted by the Monte Verità Foundation and the Pro Elisarion Association, founded in 2008 to safeguard the work of Elisàr von Kupffer and Eduard von Mayer.

The project, financed by the Swiss Confederation, the Republic and Canton of Ticino, the Municipality of Minusio, which owns the painting, and private foundations, now allows the public to admire a painting which, like the entire Monte Verità complex, is a cultural asset under the protection of the Office for Cultural Heritage of Canton Ticino, which supervised the entire restoration process.

Composed of 16 canvases, The Clear World of the Blessed is a circular scenic painting with a diameter of almost 9 metres. Created in the style of Romantic and Pre-Raphaelite models, it presents 84 male nudes immersed in an idyllic earthly paradise, in 33 scenes described in verse by Elisàr von Kupffer himself.

Born in Estonia in 1872, von Kupffer was a painter, poet, historian and playwright. With his companion Eduard von Mayer he settled in Ticino where he founded Clarism, a philosophical-religious movement oriented towards social and sexual emancipation.

The temple of Clarism was the Sanctuarium Artis Elisarion, built by the couple in Minusio, in which the circular painting was placed, visible at the end of a sort of initiation path that led visitors from the ‘World of Chaos’ to the ‘Clear World’.

After the death of von Kupffer and von Mayer, the building and the painting were left to the municipality of Minusio, so that it could remain a place of art and culture.

The painting was removed from its original location in 1977 as part of a renovation project. Ten years later, it was rediscovered by Harald Szeemann and included in the travelling exhibition Monte Verità. The Breasts of Truth dedicated to the history of this unique community.

After the exhibition – which was shown in Zurich, Berlin, Vienna and Munich – the building intended to house the work was built in the park of Monte Verità on the foundations of the solarium of the old colony. Today, the Elisarion Pavilion is an integral part of the Monte Verità Museum Complex – together with Casa Anatta, with Harald Szeemann’s permanent exhibition and the air and light huts, examples of the first dwellings of the founders of the vegetarian colony – and hosts an introductory exhibition curated by Andreas Schwab.


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