“Musee Barbier-Mueller”

Barbier-Mueller: four generations of collectors

To celebrate the 40th birthday of the Musée Barbier-Mueller, the Biennale Paris is welcoming a selection of 130 works from this Swiss family’s personal collections. An opportunity to retrace a passion and a saga. For the Barbier-Muellers, collecting is part of the family history… It started off with the grandfather, Josef Mueller, then continued with the mother, Monique, the father, Jean Paul Barbier-Mueller, and today the three sons, Gabriel, Stéphane, Thierry, as well as Diane, one of the granddaughters. Four generations of collectors that the Biennale Paris has chosen to honour through a selection of works from their collection, some of which have never been unveiled to the public. “The idea was to set up a dialogue between major pieces from four generations of collectors with very different tastes by recreating the atmosphere of Josef Mueller’s apartment, where modern paintings stood alongside primitive-art objects,” is the way that Laurence Mattet, director of the Musée Barbier-Mueller in Geneva, puts it. Sculptures and contemporary paintings thus brush shoulders with Japanese weaponry and art objects from Africa, Oceania and Antiquity. This year’s event is also an opportunity to pay homage to Jean Paul Barbier-Mueller, who passed away last December at the age of 86 years, and whose name is associated with the largest private collection of primitive art – a collection which comprises 7000 objects, masks, ceramics, textiles, weapons, chairs… all originating from Africa, the Americas, Asia and Oceania, as well as tribal and classical Antiquity pieces. The Barbier-Mueller collection took off in Switzerland a little over 110 years ago. First of all, via Josef Mueller, the son of a bourgeois family from Soleure, who became an orphan at the age of six years. Josef fell “in love” with a portrait of a woman from Picasso’s Pink Period, which he saw on...

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Encounter the Baga at Musée Barbier-Mueller

Geneva, 9 April 2014, Art Media Agency (AMA). Until 4 May, the Geneva-based Musée Barbier-Mueller is presenting an exhibition entitled “Encounter the Baga”. Serving as an exploration of Baga sculptures which, for the most part, originate from Guinea, the exhibition represents the first time these sculptures have been displayed alongside one another in a European setting. “Encounter the Baga” is a comprehensive collection of masks, drums, seats and statuettes from this sphere of sculptors, who were known for their exclusively male societal groups. Dimba, a large-scale female bust in wood, and Bansonyi, a snake-shape mask, are of particular significance with regards to the medium’s religious historical past. The exhibition also marks the culmination of fifteen years of research by the anthropologist David Berliner. The artistic production of Baga sculptures witnessed a sharp decline from the beginning of the 20th century, following the arrival of two monotheistic religions to the region: Islam and Catholicism. Their arrival signalled a drastic change for Baga societies, which suffered from a definitive cease in production in the 1960s, following the decree by the Republic of Guinea’s first President, Sékou Touré, who condemned the works as “pagan fetish”. Baga objects have inspired Western artists such as Maurice de Vlaminck and Picasso, who were inspired by their strong aesthetic and visual...

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