“Kunstmuseum Basel”

Data: Jackson Pollock, auction star

We look at “Jack The Dripper”, one of the best-rated painters on the auction scene. New proof of the dominance of American artists on the art market. Shows and hammer blows! Jackson Pollock was born on 28 January 1912 in Cody (Wyoming), the youngest of five siblings. He was affected by the immense landscapes of the American West where Amerindian culture is still visible — he would take part in rituals from a distance in the 1920s. Between 1912 and 1928, the Pollocks moved eight times. The family had trouble making ends meet and alcoholism took a toll. Jackson Pollock didn’t have much success at school either. He didn’t finish secondary school, and was expelled from Manual Arts High School for criticising the teaching methods. Open to Marxist ideas, he appreciated mural art and along with his brothers, discovered the frescoes of José Clemente Orozco at Pomona College (California) in 1930. He enrolled at the Art Students League of New York, where he followed Thomas Hart Benton’s class and met Orozco. During the crisis, Roosevelt’s New Deal instigated the Federal Art Project to offer financial support to artists. As part of this programme, orders for his frescoes multiplied, but Pollock was excluded from the Project because of absenteeism. At the end of 1937, Jackson Pollock went into rehab and started therapy — the first in a long series — before being rehired for the Project until 1942 in its “easel-painting” section. A delicious touch of irony for the man who, as of 1947, would lay canvases on the ground to perfect his famous dripping technique. Jackson Pollock was passionate about Amerindian art, the sand paintings of the Navajos, the Kachinas, the Hopis, and so on. He had the opportunity to fine-tune his knowledge at the “Indian Art of the...

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“Joseph Beuys: Installationen, Aktionen & Vitrinen” at Kunstmuseum Basel

Running until 31 January 2016, the Kunstmuseum Basel is hosting two central installations by artist Joseph Beuys, additional video works accompany the sculptural installation works. The two works Hearth I (1968-74) and Hearth II  (1978-79) are two interconnected pieces which depict Beuys’ belief in the necessity of ongoing debate and exchange for the production of democratic thought. Beuys himself participated in protests against Kunstmuseum Basel’s acquisition of Hearth I which was sold to the museum for 300,000 Swiss Francs, using the suits worn by protestors to create Hearth II.  The seven videos also on display portray Beuys both as an action artist and as an individual politically engaging with his environment. The cycle 11 Vitrinen. Laboratorien der Imagination 1949/1984 is on permanent loan to the museum from a Swiss private collection. Beuys was born in Krefeld in 1921 and died 1986 in Düsseldorf. He was a Fluxus, happening and performance artist as well as a sculptor, installation artist, graphic artist, art theorist and pedagogue of art; his work is perpetually grounded in humanist and anthroposophic concepts and is always politically and socially...

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Two of Basel’s collections to go on tour

Due to the museum’s scheduled closure in 2015, two of Kunstmuseum Basel’s most celebrated collections will tour to Museum Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid and the Phillips Collection in Washington DC. The Rudolf Staechelin Collection includes 19th century precursors of Modernism, whereas the Im Obersteg Collection contains 20th-century masterpieces. Together, the two collections offer a unique view of Modern painting from the 19th century up until approximately 1940. Alongside well-known works by Van Gogh and Picasso, are pieces by Swiss artists of the early twentieth century. The collections will travel together to Madrid (18 March to 13 September 2015) and Washington (10 October 2015 to 10 January 2016). The organisers anticipate around a million...

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Kunstmuseum Basel hosts Charles Ray

Until 28 September 2014, Kunstmuseum Basel, Switzerland, in collaboration with the Art Institute of Chicago, presents the work of American sculptor Charles Ray. The exhibition showcases a series of works created between 1997 and 2014, and is on display across two institutions: Kunstmuseum Basel and Museum für Gegenwartskunst. Curated by Bernhard Mendes Bürgi, the show fosters Ray’s rediscovery of human-figure sculptures. Known for his enigmatic, contemporary pieces, often large in scale; he works with new media such as plastic — similar in style to that of Jeff Koons or Katharina Fritsch. Ray blends styles, materials, subjects and colours, and has been labelled “unclassifiable”. His work questions the existence and the significance of objects — earning him the nickname: “sculptor of sculptures”.  ...

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James Ensor’s masks at the Kunstmuseum

Basel, 19 November 2013, Art Media Agency (AMA). The Kunstmuseum Basel is to host an exhibition entitled “The Surprised Masks: James Ensor”, between 9 February and 18 May 2014. Ensor (1860-1949) is a major figure of the Belgian avant-garde from the late 19th century; as a pioneer of early 20th century Expressionism, he has influenced several generations of artists. Ensor was hugely interested in everything surrounding carnivals, as well as the use of masks, cross-dressing and role-playing in performance. Ghosts, skulls, skeletons and other macabre figures populate Ensor’s works. His pieces are grotesque, ironic, and sometimes aggressive and provocative, but always carried by an acute sense of humour. His unusual subject matter exposes the absurd and the grotesque in everyday...

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