Elisabeth Wild, 1922–2020

Artist best known for her collage work

Vivian Suter and Elisabeth Wild, 2019. Photo: Oliver Basciano

Elisabeth Wild, the artist best known for her collage work, has died. Wild’s art only began to gain public recognition in later life, in tandem with her daughter, the painter Vivian Suter. Wild and Suter were both championed by curator Adam Szymczyk, who gave them a two-person show at the Kunsthalle Basel in 2014 and featured them his 2017 Documenta. Wild also exhibited at the Power Plant, Toronto, in 2017 and had a solo show at Carbon 12 in Dubai last year. 

Wild, who was 98, had suffered ill-health for a number of years, however she continued to work every day, assembling paper she cut from a vast stack of art, architecture and design magazines. Wild lived next door to Suter on a former coffee plantation in the town of Panajachel on the western shore of Lake Atitlán, 115km by road from Guatemala City. Born in Vienna in 1922 to a jewish family, Wild’s parents fled Austria for Argentina as the Nazi threat became apparent. On their way, however, they stopped over in Venice because, as Suter would explain in an interview with ArtReview in 2019, “they wanted their teenage daughter to see its beauty in case they never were able to return to Europe again”. In fact Wild did come back, settling in Basel with her husband and a young Vivian and opening an antique shop. On retirement she followed her daughter to Guatemala. There, both were the subject of Vivian’s Garden, a 2016 film by Rosalind Nashashibi.

Art on the Underground is due to launch a new London tube map in the spring featuring a design by Wild, and she will have a career retrospective at MUMOK Vienna in 2021. 

13 February 2020