Walter Pfeiffer | AnOther
Aug 23 2022
A large drawing of a cat’s face opens Walter Pfeiffer’s first career survey in New York, organised by Simon Castets and Daniel Merritt at the Swiss Institute. The turquoise-eyed feline’s curious expression on a wall divider is a fittingly anarchic – yet veiled with light-hearted ease – entry into the multi-hyphenate Swiss artist’s five-decade-long practice, which fills both floors of the East Village institution with innumerable works in the realms of photography, drawing, collage, graphic design and film. In fact, the gritty downtown neighbourhood – which many 1980s icons called home – was Pfeiffer’s stomping ground for a short period of time four decades ago. A year-long stint in New York, however, is only a slice in a mosaic that constitutes the 76-year-old artist’s rollercoaster career.
After starting out in the 1970s with Dada-inspired mixed-media experiments, Pfeiffer made his best-known works; Polaroids of young men with a countercultural edge. In the 80s, he had solo shows at Kunsthaus Zurich and Kunsthalle Basel, but, stressed by the homophobic reception of his intimate images of friends and strangers, Pfeiffer later put his lens aside to focus on drawings for a decade as well as teaching and doing commercial graphic design work.