Spreading fear and mayhem in the visual arts.

In memoriam Sibylle Ruppert, 1942 - 2011

by Suzanne on June 13th, 2011


La Décadence by Sibylle Ruppert, courtesy of HR Giger Museum - click to enlarge

As if it hasn't been a particularly sad month for the arts & humanities losing so many great thinkers and creators already, with Leonora Carrington, Jack Kevorkian and Jeffrey Catherine Jones leaving us, I just read about the passing of Sibylle Ruppert over on John Coulthart's Feuilleton and MonsterBrains.

I first came across Sibylle's work at HR Giger's castle/museum in Gruyères, Switzerland, and I was absolutely astonished by how her oeuvre brought together both a Bellmeresque laciness, a glossy surreal fetishism and the most steroid-induced masculinity I had ever seen outside of He-Man at that point. I was confused that I had never heard of her before because her absolutely otherworldly talent was so stricking, it just made no sense it hadn't been further discovered and exploited yet.


Flucht by Sibylle Ruppert, 1971, courtesy of Marco Witzig - click to enlarge

But maybe that's precisely what made her such an outstanding (artist's) artist - that she worked in relative obscurity and with obscurity - yet leading such a colourful and accomplished life as a ballerina, touring the world as a chorus girl, teaching art in mental institutions and drug rehabilitation centres - all the while being absolutely possessed by the daemon of art (... and the Marquis de Sade).

From her fascinating biography on HR's website:

"After the war they were taken in by an aristocratic family [who] owned a castle, and Sibylle spent her early childhood years as if in a dream world. Her father was a graphic designer and young Sibylle spent hours upon hours near his desk watching as he drew. One day she seized his hand and promised him that she would paint nice colourful pictures just like him. Her first drawing surprised everyone, it was a brutal illustration of a fist striking the middle of a face – she was 6 years old."

I am so very grateful I got to see your work face to face, Sibylle. Thank you for leaving your visions, your nightmares, your subconscious behind for us to inspect. You will be sorely missed.

You can find a gallery of her work here as well as on Feuilleton and MonsterBrains.


Kamm by Sibylle Ruppert, 1977, courtesy of Marco Witzig - click to enlarge