The Surrealism Website
Otto Tschumi (1904 - 1985)




Otto Tschumi was born in Bern and grew up in modest circumstances. After trying some other careers he evntually became a graphic designer and between 1921 and 1925 attended the vocational school of the Swiss painter Ernst Linck. In 1936 he moved to Paris with his wife, the dancer, Beatrice Gutekunst. There the couple found their way into the circles of surrealists and came to know Hans Arp, Max Ernst, Alberto Giacometti and Salvador Dali. He accepted the ideas of the Surrealist Manifesto which demanded the overcoming of conventions and the application of the principle of the subconscious. However, he did not join the surrealist group, preferring to remain independent.
Shortly before the invasion by German troops in 1940, the couple returned to Switzerland to Köniz. After a long stay in Ticino, Tschumi set up operations in Bern, where he lived until his death.
He participated in numerous group exhibitions, but never joined an artists' association and he developed his own, 'tschumisch' style of surrealism, which he continually refined until the end of his long life.
Otto Tschumi belongs alongside Alberto Giacometti, Meret Oppenheim, Serge Brignoni and Max Seligmann as one of the most important of the Swiss surrealists and has decisively influenced 20th century Swiss art.