Born in 1932 in Basel (Switzerland), he died in 2007 in Cormeilles-en-Parisis (France).
He first starts to study biology at the University of Basel before joining the Art Institute that he quits to train for an apprenticeship as a house painter. After earning a scholarship at the end of his graduation, he goes to France where he paints rubbish tips, cemeteries and decomposing bodies of animals.
In 1958, he decides to live, in the heart of the slum area in Bezons, in a old bus without wheels. There, in extremely difficult conditions, he makes the portrait of this cour des miracles filled with his friends and models, the migrants and the gypsies. Four years later, he definitely settles near Argenteuil and buys a "caravan-studio" with the sales of some paintings. Familiar with waste grounds and slums in this area, he keeps on painting from nature fringes, prostitutes, vagrants and disabled people for a decade.
From the 1970’s, Jürg Kreienbühl takes up again the practice of etching and lithography. His important and continuous production accompanies, in addition to portraits and still lives, all the subjects of the following years: a former factory of unsold saints for churches (1975), the pollution and the “France” liner at the “quay of oblivion” in Le Havre (1978-1979), the cemetery of Neuilly-sur-Seine and the building site of La Défense (1980), the abandoned treasures of the gallery of paleontology - closed at that time - in the Jardin des plantes in Paris (1982-1985), the nuclear power station in Gravelines and the port of Dunkirk (1995-1997) and the Swiss subjects in the 1990’s (The Warteck brewery, Tribute to Basel, The enchanted garden of artist Bernhard Luginbühl, mountains landscapes).
Expressed at his beginning through an expressionist manner, his fascination for rot and destruction finds a definite form in an objective realism, establishing an uncompromising picture of the socio-economic and environmental disruption in the second half of the 20th century. With the accuracy and hallucinatory sharpness of a scientist, Jürg Kreienbühl makes himself the disillusioned painter of the old beliefs, the suburbs and the condemned worlds, the social outcasts and the ravages from urbanisation and industrialisation.
During the artist’s lifetime, he has been exhibited and purchased by major public and private institutions (Kunstmuseum Basel, Aargauer Kunsthaus, FRAC Ile-de-France, UBS AG collection, Migros Museum…). After his death, his work is being progressively rediscovered and reassessed. It joined very recently the collection of the Centre Pompidou and the Museum of Fine Arts of Rennes.
Selected recent solo and group exhibitions
2017 Dans la place, curated by Stéphane Corréard, Villa Belleville-Pavillon Carré de
30 ans de collection, Hôtel de Ville, Aulnay-sous-Bois
2016 Jürg Kreienbühl - Peintures 1952-1956, Galerie Gabrielle Maubrie, Paris
2015 Dings Da, Kunstmuseum, Olten
Quelques êtres vivants, Gilles Aillaud & Jürg Kreienbühl, dans leur environnement quotidiens, carte blanche to Stéphane Correard, Galerie Gabrielle Maubrie, Paris
2014 Le Muséum d’Histoire Naturelle, Galerie Alain Blondel, Paris
Maurice et Boulon, Galerie Dix 291, Paris
2012 First Choice - From Private Collections V, Galerie Carzaniga, Basel
Beauté animale, Grand Palais, Paris
2011 Not for sale, Passage de Retz, Paris