“Fondation Beyeler”

Wolfgang Tillmans, at the frontiers of the visible

As one exhibition concludes, another opens… While the solo show dedicated to German photographer Wolfgang Tillmans is finishing at the Tate in London, the retrospective on him at the Fondation Beyeler is starting up in the Swiss city of Basel. Perfect timing for a closer look at this artist whose experimentations have taken him far and wide… Contemporary photography – unfortunately – doesn’t always have many superstars to boast about. Even if the medium has achieved recognition in the last decade, its ecosystem still remains closed: it has its own dedicated galleries, themed auction sales, mono-medium fairs, specialised journals… In this respect, Germany’s Wolfgang Tillmans emerges as something of a phenomenon. Earning steady recognition from institutions and art critics from a very early stage in his career, he is already counted amongst the most fashionable photographers… And yet we can sense that this artist still has more tricks up his sleeve. Born in 1968 in Remscheid in West Germany (near Cologne and Düsseldorf, and therefore also near Europe-focused Belgium and the Netherlands), he discovered the photography of Polke, Richter and Rauschenberg while he was still a teenager in the museums of big neighbouring cities. After three years in Hamburg, Tillmans continued his studies at the Bournemouth and Poole College of Art and Design in South England. He then moved to London before staying in New York for one year in 1994. This is where he met gallerist Andrea Rosen, who would be the first to support him, as well as his lover, painter Jochen Klein. The two Germans would return to Europe where they lived together in the British capital until the death, in 1997, of Klein, a victim of AIDS. Tillmans was not yet 30 at the time. In 2000, the artist suddenly emerged from obscurity by becoming...

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Peter Zumthor chosen for Fondation Beyeler extension

Swiss architect Peter Zumthor has been picked to extend the Fondation Beyeler building designed by Renzo Piano. This project, costing $82 million, will be built on a private plot in the Iselin-Weber Park in Riehen, just near Basel, thus creating a new exhibition space. “The sky above Basel, the city and its surroundings – those are the landscapes of my youth. It is heart-warming to be able to design a major building here,” declared the 2009 winner of the Pritzker Prize. The architect has already designed the highly acclaimed Kunsthaus Bregenz and the Kolumba Art Museum in Cologne, and he is currently working on his most ambitious project, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. For now, the Fondation Beyeler’s extension plans are yet to be unveiled, and will be publicised in autumn by Atelier Peter Zumthor &...

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Data: Franz Marc, in search of autonomy

A German Expressionist painter and a founding member of the Der Blaue Reiter group alongside Kandinsky, Franz Marc (1880-1916) has left behind a powerful body of paintings… A ride towards abstraction.   Franz Marc was born on 8 February 1880 in Munich in a protestant family. His father, Wilhelm Marc, was a painter and teacher. Before turning to the arts, Franz initially saw himself as a philosopher… or pastor. He entered the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich, but quickly left the establishment, finding it overly strict. In 1950, he began encountering animal painters such as Jean-Bloé Niestlé, who led him to create his first horse sketches. At that time, he stopped all human representations in favour of animal forms, expressing an extreme type of naturalism which saw nature as an ultimate refuge for man’s sad social destiny. Paul Klee would write after his death: “He is more human, he loves more warmly, more strongly. He bends humanly towards animals. He lifts them towards himself.” In 1907, a trip to Paris led him to discover the works of Van Gogh and Gauguin. It was a shock for him… The encounter would transfigure his painting, and his palette grew lighter. His bestiary turned wilder. In 1909, his meeting with another Expressionist painter, August Macke, was enlightening. The two artists joined the Neue Künstlervereinigung München (NKVM or Munich New Artists Association), founded in January 1909, whose president was a certain Wassily Kandinsky. Franz Marc exhibited his paintings with the group’s other members at the Moderne Galerie Thannhauser. However, the innovative ideas shared by Kandinsky and Franz Marc — who quickly became friends — created a rift in the group, between radical and more moderate painters. Kandinsky resigned from the role in January 1911 after the organising committee of the NKVM rejected one of...

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Marlene Dumas retrospective at Fondation Beyeler

From 31 May until 6 September 2015, the Fondation Beyeler is to host the largest retrospective of the artist Marlene Dumas to ever be held in Europe. The retrospective is to offer a unique view of her works created from the middle of the 1970s until the present day. Marlene Dumas is one of the most influential artists in contemporary art, exploring in her Expressionist drawing and paintings themes of identity, the human body, love, and death. These themes are essential to human life, and allow her to look at her own past, the events that she lived through in South Africa, as well as to engage in a dialogue with the history of art. For her fascinating and emotionally-charged paintings, she works from photographs which she has archived herself, taken from magazines and postcards. The exhibition is to display works from the entirety of her career, some of which have never been shown to the public. Marlene Dumas was born in South Africa and has lived and worked in Amsterdam since...

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Long-lost Gauguin sculpture to be shown in Beyeler exhibition

Paul Gauguin’s 1902 carved sculpture, Thérèse, which famously disappeared around 1980, and has since been hidden from public view in a private collection in London, is on show at Basel’s Fondation Beyeler until 28 June. The mysterious piece was rediscovered by director of the Beyeler, Sam Keller, at Frieze Masters last October, where it was shown by the London gallery Lefevre Fine Art. The gallery has lent the piece for the duration of the Beyeler Foundation’s Gauguin retrospective, billed as the most exhaustive exhibition of the late artist’s work since “Gauguin: Tahiti” was held at the Grand Palais in Paris and the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston (MFA) in 2003-2004. The sculpture is believed to represent a servant of the Marquesan Catholic bishop, Joseph Martin, who Gauguin believed had sexual relations with his staff. Other highlights of the exhibition include: Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?, 1897-98, which is being lent by the MFA; and Nafea Faa Ipoipo (When Will You Marry?), which according to The New York Times and the Austrian newspaper, Der Standard, was recently acquired by a Qatari buyer for...

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