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May 27 2013

Max Ernst Retrospective at Fondation Beyeler

Max Ernst is considered as one of Modern Art’s most versatile artists. Max Ernst started out as Dadaist in Cologne, then moved to Paris to become one of the leading Surrealist artists. After his emigration to the USA and his return to war-devastated Europe he was finally rediscovered as one of the most fascinating artists of the 20th Century. The comprehensive retrospective Max Ernst at Fondation Beyeler features more than 160 paintings, collages, drawings, sculptures and prints, including major works that can only be seen together in this exhibition in Riehen, Switzerland. Among the highlights of the exhibition are the works La Vierge corrigeant l’enfant Jésus devant trois témoins: André Breton, Paul Èluard et le peintre (1926); Au premier mot limpide (1923), L’habillement de l’épousée / de la mariée (1940); and L’ange du foyer (Le triomphe du surréalisme) (1937). The show runs until September 8, 2013.

Max Ernst Retrospective at Fondation Beyeler, Riehen (Basel, Switzerland). Vernissage, May 25, 2013.

PS: Bespoke hat with chili by Piers Atkinson for Karolina ;–)

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April 27 2013

Herzog & de Meuron Architects: Messe Basel New Hall

Just in time for Basel’s important Baselworld fair, the new hall complex of Messe Basel was inaugurated. Designed by the Basel-based architects Herzog & de Meuron, the new hall building changes the character of Basel’s exhibition site considerably. The exhibition square is now clearly delineated towards the city. The key architectural and urban-planning feature of Herzog & de Meuron’s new hall complex is the so-called City Lounge. This is a covered-over public space that is intended to revitalize the exhibition square. Referencing Messe Basel’s iconic “Rundhofhalle” (Hall 2, designed in the 1950s by Swiss architect Hans Hofmann), the City Lounge’s most striking feature is a huge hole that breaks through the new hall 1 and brings light to the space below. As always with Herzog & de Meuron’s designs, the facade is an essential element of the design. This time, it’s a facade of articulated twisting bands (aluminum). The two exhibition floors are also offset from each other, to avoid the “big box” effect.

Herzog & de Meuron Architects: Messe Basel New Hall. April 25, 2013.

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April 16 2013

Mike Meiré: Conflicts and Holes / Von Bartha Garage, Basel

Mike Meiré is primarily known as art director and designer. He is art director of magazines such as Brand Eins, Kid’s Wear, NZZ, Arch+ and Garage. Meiré also conceived art/design projects such as The Farm Project and Global Street Food. At von Bartha Garage Meiré presents new and site specific works in an exhibition titled Conflicts and Holes.

Mike Meiré: Conflicts and Holes / Von Bartha Garage, Basel. Vernissage, April 12, 2013.

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April 15 2013

Anja Ganster: Deslocamento / Brasilea Foundation, Basel

The current exhibition Deslocamento at Brasilea Arts Centre in Basel (Switzerland), presents paintings and an installation by the German artist Anja Ganster. The works address both the magnificent nature of Brazil and the dominant architecture of the country. In her paintings, Anja Ganster contrasts the inside and outside, and with her installation, she translates her artistic concept into the three-dimensional space.

Anja Ganster was born in Main (Germany) in 1968. She lives and works in Germany and Switzerland. Recent solo exhibitions include Wandelhalle at Kunstverein Mannheim, The Visitor at Locuslux Gallery Amsterdam, and Revisiting at Art Etage in Biel/Bienne.

Brasilea Arts Centre in Basel is run by the Brasilea Foundation. Founded in 2003, the foundation is based on the Walter Wüthrich Collection, which contains paintings by Franz Josef Widmar. It’s the objective of the Brasilea Foundation to run a cultural centre to promote and disseminate Brazilian culture, particularly in the field of visual arts.

Anja Ganster: Deslocamento / Brasilea Arts Centre, Basel. Opening reception, April 11, 2013.

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March 22 2013

Julius Eastman: Gay Guerrilla at Kunsthalle Basel / Mathieu Kleyebe Abonnenc: Songs for a Mad King

Gay Guerrilla (1979) is a composition for four pianos by African-American composer Julius Eastman (1940-1990). Concert played by the pianists Faristamo Susi, Andriy Dragan, Benoit Hennecart and Lukas Rickli on the occasion of the exhibition Mathieu Kleyebe Abonnenc: Songs for a Mad King at Kunsthalle Basel, Switzerland on March 16, 2013. The above video is an excerpt, the full-length video is available after the break.

The exhibition Mathieu Kleyebe Abonnenc: Songs for a Mad King at Kunsthalle Basel runs until March 24, 2013.

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Video with the complete concert (32:00):

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March 20 2013

Steve McQueen Retrospective at Schaulager in Basel

Schaulager in Basel currently presents the first comprehensive exhibition of work by the British video artist and filmmaker Steve McQueen. The show features more than twenty video and film installations, photographs and other selected work of Steve McQueen. The exhibition runs until September 1, 2013. In this video, we attend the opening of the exhibition on 15 March, 2013.

Steve McQueen Retrospective at Schaulager Basel. Vernissage, March 15, 2013.

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March 18 2013

The Picassos Are Here! A Retrospective From Basel Collections at Kunstmuseum Basel

The exhibition The Picassos Are Here! at Kunstmuseum Basel is not just another Picasso retrospective. The show tells the story of a love affair between an artist and a whole city. In 1967, Basel residents approved a municipal loan of 6 million franks in a city-wide plebiscite and in a unique fundraising action collected an additional 2.4 million franks to secure two important paintings for the Kunstmuseum Basel: Les deux frères (1906) and Arlequin assis (1923). Picasso was so touched by this democratic expression of love that he gave the city three paintings and a famous drawing: Homme, femme et enfant (1906), Vénus et l’Amour (1967), Le couple (1967), and Esquisse pour “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon” (1907).

The retrospective The Picassos Are Here! highlights this special relationship between Picasso and Basel and brings together works by the famous artist that have been collected by Basel citizens and institutions. The show spans the whole career of Picasso, from the early works until the last. The exhibition is curated by Anita Haldemann and Nina Zimmer. This video provides you with a walk through the exhibition, and Anita Haldemann talks about the concept of the show and tells the story of how the Picassos came to Basel.

The Picassos Are Here! A Retrospective From Basel Collections at Kunstmuseum Basel. Press preview an interview with Anita Haldemann, curator Kupferstichkabinett (Department of Drawings and Prints) at Kunstmuseum Basel, March 15, 2013.

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January 14 2013

Markus Müller at Nicolas Krupp Contemporary Art, Basel

In this video we attend the opening reception of Swiss artist Markus Müller’s solo exhibition at the gallery Nicolas Krupp Contemporary Art in Basel, Switzerland. The show presents free-standing and wall-mounted sculptures made of steel, plywood, chipboard, ash wood, and painted with oil, acrylic, stovepipe or blackboard lacquer. Markus Müller was born 1970 in Teufen, Switzerland. The artist lives in Basel. Selected solo exhibitions include Museum für Gegenwartskunst Basel (2002), Kunsthaus Glarus (2006), and Néon, Lyon (2009). The exhibition at Nicolas Krupp in Basel runs until February 23, 2013.

Markus Müller at Nicolas Krupp Contemporary Art, Basel. Opening reception, January 8, 2013.

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January 09 2013

15 Years Fondation Beyeler. Interview with Director Sam Keller

When the Fondation Beyeler opened its museum in 1997 as new home for the collection of art dealer Ernst Beyeler no one would have predicted the enormous success the institution achieved over the years. Fondation Beyeler in Riehen near Basel is the most attended art museum in Switzerland, and also the most international. In 2011, Fondation Beyeler saw a record admittance of 426,856 visitors. The museum attracts art lovers with exhibitions of the permanent collection, which comprises of major works by artists such as Bacon, Calder, van Gogh, Matisse and Picasso, and temporary shows with contemporary artists such as Jeff Koons and Philippe Parreno, and public art projects by Louise Bourgeois, Jenny Holzer, and other renowned artists.

On the occasion of the 15th Anniversary of the museum, VernissageTV spoke with the director of Fondation Beyeler, Sam Keller. The former director of the art fair Art Basel became the director of Fondation Beyeler in 2008. In this video, Sam Keller looks back at 15 years of Fondation Beyeler, talks about the mission and main activities of the museum, and provides us with an outlook on the upcoming projects and strategic goals of the foundation and the museum. The video above is an excerpt. The complete video and excerpts from the transcript are available after the break.

15 Years Fondation Beyeler. Interview with Director Sam Keller. Fondation Beyeler, Riehen (Switzerland), December 19, 2012.

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Complete video (22:51 Min.):

Fondation Beyeler immediately caught the attention of the art world with its exceptional building that was designed by Renzo Piano, and Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s Wrapped Trees project in the park of the museum and its surroundings. Over the years, the museum has grown considerably. Today, Fondation Beyeler is not only preserving and showing the collection of Ernst and Hildy Beyeler, but also active in the fields of special exhibitions, public art projects, conservation, and education. The museum collaborates in many ways with other museums and institutions on a national and increasingly international level. Fondation Beyeler is lending artworks to other institutions, and collaborates with other collections such as the Calder Foundation and the Daros Collection.

The Fondation Beyeler’s collection comprises works by Francis Bacon, Georg Baselitz, Constantin Brancusi, Georges Braque, Alexander Calder, Paul Cézanne, Marc Chagall, Eduardo Chillida, Christo, Edgar Degas, Jean Dubuffet, Max Ernst, Luciano Fabro, Sam Francis, Alberto Giacometti, Vincent van Gogh, Vasily Kandinsky, Ellsworth Kelly, Anselm Kiefer, Paul Klee, Fernand Léger, Roy Lichtenstein, Jacques Lipchitz, Henri Matisse, Joan Miró, Piet Mondrian, Claude Monet, Barnett Newman, Pablo Picasso, Jackson Pollock, Neo Rauch, Robert Rauschenberg, Auguste Rodin, Mark Rothko, Henri Rousseau, Georges Seurat, Frank Stella, Antoni Tàpies, Mark Tobey, and Andy Warhol. The Beyeler Collection was accumulated by Hildy and Ernst Beyeler during more than fifty years as gallery owners. The collection consists of around 230 paintings and sculptures by modern masters. Through temporary exhibitions with artists such as Jeff Koons, Jenny Holzer, Beatriz Milhazes, Richard Serra, and Philippe Parreno the Fondation Beyeler repeatedly creates links between the permanent collection and contemporary art.

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Here are some excerpts from the interview:

Sam Keller on how he would describe the development of the museum over the last 15 years.

“In the beginning I think no-one could have envisioned that in such short term it would get on the map as being one of the most important museums not only in Switzerland, but also having an international reputation as being a house which shows art at the highest quality. So the development has been a quite steady one and steadily growing and to our big satisfaction this is something that has even continued after the passing away of the founders. So it has also made a transition from a private initiative, very much the vision of Ernst Beyeler, the founder, and is has kept those values and has kept those virtues, but has now become an institution which relies on many people’s know-how and commitment, and it has steadily attracted more and more people who are supporting the museum…”

Sam Keller on the things he discussed with Ernst Beyeler when he became director of the museum.

“It’s a lot about how can we educate, reach and educate the public. He always said: We are not afraid of success. He said, we shouldn’t do things for ourselves, we should really do it for the public. He trusted the public, that the public is actually willing and capable to follow even a program which is very ambitious.”

Sam Keller on how the museum is embedded in the art scene in the region.

“Basel is an art city, and then you are not an art city because there is just one great museum, you are because you have an art scene and you have many good museums. So between the Fondation Beyeler, the Kunstmuseum, the Tinguely Museum, the Vitra Design Museum, the Kunsthalle, the Museum für Gegenwartskunst, the Schaulager and many of the other institutions, we actually collaborate, we collaborate in Marketing, we are collaborating in looking how our exhibitions can complement each other, we are very generous in lending each other works and giving each other all kinds of support.”

Sam Keller on the future of the museum:

“I think one of the most important things was this transition, you know, from a private initiative to a really like the public institution, so, that will continue. Another thing is the question is it going to be a mausoleum or a museum. Is it once the founders of this museum have passed away, is it just going to be stuck, is it going to remain, or is it going to develop. I think we have given the answer, it’s going to continue to develop and of course there’s a lot of work ahead of us. Most important is the collection, and how can we develop the collection. So strategically we want to continue to acquire especially contemporary art by leading artists. Also, Ernst Beyeler was always collecting and exhibiting both like historical and contemporary art, but the contemporaries of his time and his friends were Picasso and Giacometti and many artists that now are not living any more. So how is the museum going to have a relationship with the leading artists of today. So this is why we do have a strong contemporary art program and we work with artists such as Jenny Holzer or with Richard Serra or with Jeff Koons, with Philippe Parreno, in the future Mauricio Cattelan.”

“Then of course, one of the big questions is: how is the digitalization of the world changing also museums. So this is why also over the last years, we have built up a very strong website, where a lot of our programs, for example we have a lot of artist talks, concerts, performances, etc., people can follow that over the internet, prepare their visit, but also people who are far away and can visit only once in their life can continue to follow the museum. So this is something that’s going to continue in the future.”

“I think the first fifteen years of the museum is only the beginning, we think there is a lot of potential of people we can reach and bring to art, of collaborations with artists we can do, and one of the things that have marked the history of the museum and that we would like to do more in the future is to have public art projects. So here a lot of people come to see art, but we also think that the art has to go out to the public.”

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November 02 2012

Sasha Waltz & Guests Dance Performance at Fondation Beyeler

Fondation Beyeler in Riehen (Switzerland) currently presents an exhibition that focuses on the late work of the French artist Edgar Degas, who is known for his famous depictions of dancers. On the occasion of this unique show, Sasha Waltz, one of the most important contemporary choreographers, came to Riehen to show ”Rebonds B” as part of the choreography “Continu”.

With her dance company Sasha Waltz & Guests, Sasha Waltz already performed in museums such as Zaha Hadid’s MAXXI National Museum of XXI Century Arts in Rome, and David Chipperfield’s Neues Museum in Berlin, in celebration of the inauguration of the museums. This is the first time the performances are staged during a regular visitors day in the park and in the exhibition spaces of Fondation Beyeler. This video shows a solo in one of the galleries that are dedicated to the Degas exhibition, including an introduction by Sasha Waltz.

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Sasha Waltz was born in Karlsruhe (Germany) in 1963. She studied dance at the School For New Dance Development in Amsterdam. Thereafter, she worked as a dancer in the companies of Pooh Kaye, Yoshiko Chuma & School of Hard Knocks and Lisa Krau in New York. Sasha Waltz had her breakthrough with her choreography Alle der Kosmonauten (1996). Since then, she is considered as a major innovator of the dance theater (Tanztheater), a style that was established and made popular by Pina Bausch. In 2011, she received the Order of Merit of the Federal Cross of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany.

Sasha Waltz & Guests: Performance Rebonds at Fondation Beyeler 1:

Sasha Waltz & Guests: Performance Rebonds at Fondation Beyeler 2:

Sasha Waltz & Guests: Performance in the exhibition Edgar Degas:

Sasha Waltz & Guests: Performance in the park of Fondation Beyeler:

Interview with Sasha Waltz:

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October 23 2012

Pop Art Design at Vitra Design Museum

The exhibition Pop Art Design at the Vitra Design Museum in Weil am Rhein explores the dialog between design and art in the era of Pop Art. Pop Art Design includes works by artists such as Andy Warhol, Claes Oldenburg, Robert Rauschenberg, and Roy Lichtenstein, which are contrasted by design objects by Charles & Ray Eames, George Nelson, Ettore Sottsass, Achille Castiglioni, and other designers of the time. The show is complemented by exhibits such as album covers, magazines, and contemporary interior photos.

Pop Art Design at Vitra Design Museum, Weil am Rhein (Germany), October 12, 2012.

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October 04 2012

Edgar Degas – The Late Work at Fondation Beyeler

The exhibition Edgar Degas – The Late Work at Fondation Beyeler in Riehen (Switzerland) is the first show that is devoted exclusively to Edgar Degas (1834 – 1917) late work. It features more than 150 paintings, sculptures, drawings, pastels, prints, and photographs of the famous French artist, and explores in detail the richness of the artist’s achievement in this phase of his career. After the last Impressionist exhibition in 1886, Edgar Degas turned his back on the art world, and began to fundamentally change his style. The principal subjects were ballet dancers and female nudes, jockeys and racehorses, landscapes and portraits, which he depicted in ever new variations and combinations.

Edgar Degas – The Late Work at Fondation Beyeler is curated by Martin Schwander in collaboration with Michiko Kono. The exhibition runs until January 27, 2013. Edgar Degas – The Late Work / Fondation Beyeler, Riehen / Basel (Switzerland). Opening reception, September 29, 2012.

PS: A video with an introduction to the exhibition with Martin Schwander is coming soon.

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October 03 2012

Sensing Place. Mediatizing the Urban Landscape at House of Electronic Arts Basel

The exhibition Sensing Place at House of Electronic Arts in Basel (Switzerland) engages with urban developments, new digital infrastructure and municipal space concepts. The exhibition seeks to address this reconfiguration of the public space by means of an increasing overlap of the digital spheres of information and geographical reality. Several location-dependent areas will provide the possibility for the visitors to explore not only the exhibited works but also the Dreispitzareal and old town of Basel in a sensory experience – from Urban Games to visualizations of data, Smartphone-Apps or sensory Sound interventions. In this video, the curator of the exhibition, Sabine Himmelsbach (Director, House of Electronic Arts Basel) talks about the concept of the exhibition and the artworks on display. The participating artists are Timo Arnall, Jørn Knutsen and Einar Sneve Martinussen (N), Ursula Damm (D), fabric|ch (CH), Ulrich Fischer (CH), Luca Forcucci (CH, Konzert/Performance), Yolande Harris (GB/NL), Christina Kubisch (D), Francisco Meirino (CH, Konzert/Performance), Christian Nold (GB), Gordan Savičić (SRB/D) , SENSEable City Lab (Carlo Ratti, Assaf Biderman, Dietmar Offenhuber, Eugenio Morello, Musstanser Tinauli, Kristian Kloeckl vom MIT Media Lab) (USA), Mark Shepard (USA), and Corinne Studer (CH).

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September 23 2012

Artyou Urban Art Basel 2012

Since 2004, Philipp Brogli and Beat Schöneck and their project Artstübli dedicate themselves to the promotion of urban art in Switzerland. They also organize the annual festival Artyou – Urbane Kunst Basel. Since 2008 the event takes place at Ackermannshof in Basel, Switzerland. This year the exhibition presents paintings, illustration, graphic design, graffiti, and street art by the artists Alëxone Dizac, Morten Andersen, Cicolupo, Doppeldenk, Jers & Aley, Bruno Santinho, Rae Martini, Nevercrew. This video provides you with an exhibition walk-through at the opening night, which featured a live tattoo performance by Paris-based tattooer Tin-Tin.

Artyou Urban Art Basel 2012. Ackermannshof, Basel (Switzerland). Vernissage, September 20, 2012.

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July 04 2012

Alexander Calder: The New Calder Gallery at Fondation Beyeler

The Calder Gallery that recently opened at Fondation Beyeler in Riehen (Switzerland) is a collaboration between the Calder Foundation and Fondation Beyeler. In a dedicated space in the museum, selected works by the American artist Alexander Calder will be shown. The project is intended to run for several years in a series of curated presentations. The first presentation is curated by Theodora Vischer. In this interview, Theodora Vischer and Alexander Calder’s grandson, Alexander S. C. Rower (Chairman and President of the Calder Foundation) talk about the exhibition and the project.

The aim of the Calder Gallery project is to provide a permanent presence at the Fondation Beyeler of works by Alexander Calder (1898 – 1976). The first Calder Gallery is a tribute to Mary Calder Rower, the artist’s younger daughter. She passed away last year and bequeathed more than 1,000 of her father’s works to the Calder Foundation. The current Calder Gallery presentation presents selected works, beginning with pieces from the early 1930s, Alexander Calder’s years in Paris, when he started to create kinetic sculptures. The exhibition continues with works from the early 1940s and closes with a mobile from the last year of Alexander Calder’s life, 1976.

The first Calder Gallery presentation is curated by Theodora Vischer (Senior Curator, Fondation Beyeler) and runs until May 2013. The Calder Gallery will be reinstalled at regular intervals. A magazine will accompany each exhibition. The first issue contains a conversation between Alexander S. C. Rower and Theodora Vischer, and texts by Alexander Calder, Jean-Paul Sartre, and a chronology of the life and work of Alexander Calder.

Alexander Calder: Calder Gallery at Fondation Beyeler. Gallery Walk-through and interview with Theodora Vischer and Alexander S. C. Rower. Fondation Beyeler, Riehen (Switzerland), June 14, 2012.

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June 29 2012

Artist Talk: Hans-Ulrich Obrist in Conversation with Philippe Parreno at Fondation Beyeler

On the occasion of Philippe Parreno’s solo exhibition at Fondation Beyeler, the Fondation organized an artist talk with the French artist, who became known for his work that combines different media such as film, sculpture, performance, sound and text. At Fondation Beyeler, Philippe Parreno presents two new films, C.H.Z. (“Continuously Habitable Zones”) and Marilyn, which are accompanied by a choreography of sound and images that includes two of his typical Marquees, a room with drawings, a water lilies installation created by sound waves, and a DVD with a soundtrack by Arto Lindsay that erases itself after a one play.

In this conversation with the curator Hans-Ulrich Obrist, Philippe Parreno talks about the current exhibition at Fondation Beyeler, future projects, and his work in general.

The above video is an excerpt. The full-length video (45:53 min.) is available after the jump. Coming soon: an interview with Philippe Parreno and an exhibition walk-through with statements by Sam Keller, curator Michiko Kono, and Philippe Parreno.

Artist Talk: Hans-Ulrich Obrist in Conversation with Philippe Parreno at Fondation Beyeler. Fondation Beyeler, Riehen (Switzerland), June 15, 2012.

PS: The videos are also available at the Fondation Beyeler’s website and YouTube channel.

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Complete Artist Talk (45:53 min.):

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June 26 2012

Pedro Reyes: Baby Marx (2008 – Present) / Puppet Show at Art 43 Basel Art Parcours

Art Parcours is a sector of the international art fair Art Basel that presents site-specific artworks and performances in Basel. For Art Basel 2012, the St. Johann neighborhood was chosen to be discovered via art.

For his participation in Art Parcours 2012, the Mexican artist Pedro Reyes decided to enliven his ongoing video installation Baby Marx (2008 – present) into a live puppet show. The original work is a growing video production based on the nineteenth century debate between socialism and capitalism featuring Karl Marx and Adam Smith as the main characters in a puppet show directed at children. In the hypothetical debate Marx and Smith express their differing political ideologies in an articulate way. They discuss topics ranging from Occupy Wall Street to Warhol and explain how to get rich.

Pedro Reyes was born in 1972 in Mexico City. The artist lives and works in Mexico City. Pedro Reyes’ work ranges from sculpture and film to design and pedagogy. His work revolves around social and political problems and proposes creative solutions.

Art Parcours 2012 has been curated by Jens Hoffmann, Director of the CCA Wattis Institute in San Francisco.

The above video is an excerpt, in which Adam Smith explains how to get rich. The entire show is available after the jump.

Pedro Reyes: Baby Marx (2008 – present). Art 43 Basel, Art Parcours. Galeria Luisa Strina, Sao Paulo in collaboration with Alumnos 47. June 13, 2012.

PS: See also: Pedro Reyes: Rompecabezas. Solo Exhibition at LABOR Gallery, Mexico City.

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Complete video (16:08 min.):

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June 25 2012

Vladimir Tatlin Retrospective at Museum Tinguely in Basel

The painter, architect and designer Vladimir Tatlin is one of the most important figures in the Russian avant-garde art movement. The Tatlin retrospective entitled Tatlin. New Art for a New World at Museum Tinguely in Basel (Switzerland) shows paintings, sculptures, objects, and his most famous work, the giant tower The Monument to the Third International.

The above video provides you with an exhibition walk-through on the occasion of the press preview. We had also the opportunity to speak with Dmitry Dimakov, head of the Tatlin workshop Tatlin’s Method – Culture of Material in Penza (Russia). In the video interview that you find after the break Dmitry Dimakov provides us with an introduction and overview of the life and work of Vladimir Tatlin.

The retrospective Tatlin. New Art for a New World at Museum Tinguely runs until October 14, 2012.

Vladimir Tatlin Retrospective at Museum Tinguely in Basel. Press Preview, Basel (Switzerland), June 5, 2012.

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Interview with Dmitry Dimakov, Chief of the workshop Tatlin’s Method – Culture of Material. In Russian language with German translation by Anna Szech (Scientific Assistant, Museum Tinguely). With English subtitles (click on the “cc” symbol in the menu bar of the video player) (14:10 min.):

Press release:

This year the Museum Tinguely in Basel is dedicating its large summer exhibition to one of the most important figures of the Russian avant-garde: Vladimir Tatlin (1885–1953). It is now almost twenty years since the last comprehen-sive retrospective to be devoted to this radically innovative artist. The presented works will include early paintings, counter-reliefs that reach out into the surrounding space, reconstructions of his revolutionary tower, and the flying machine Letatlin. The exhibition is rounded off with examples of his work for the theatre. The œuvre of this outstanding artist from the watershed period at the beginning of the twentieth century will be represented in over one hundred masterpieces, mostly on loan from major collections in Moscow and St Petersburg.

Vladimir Tatlin began his career as a seaman. Until 1913 his artistic activities were limited exclusively to painting and drawing. Interested in the traditional fields of icon-painting and folk art, he later transferred his attention to the most modern avant-garde trends in Russia and Western Europe, more precisely Paris. His entire later work is founded on painting. The exhibition will show a comprehensive selection of his early paintings with their bold expanses of colour, rhythmic curves, and striking use of dark and light outlines. In these eye-catching works Tatlin achieved a highly original synthesis of the Russian tradition and the French avant-garde.

Counter-reliefs
In the year 1914, Tatlin changed from being an avant-garde painter to being a revolutionary artist: there was already a sense of what was to come in 1917. Only little has been preserved of his painterly reliefs and the counter-reliefs. These works, produced before the October Revolution, constitute his most radical and far-reaching contribution to modern art. In the exhibition the few still existing originals from Moscow and St Petersburg are complemented with a representative selection of the reconstructions made on the basis of photographs, thus shedding light on this crucial aspect in the history of art. Tatlin’s counter-reliefs, with which he aimed to effect a total break with the bourgeois art world in all its forms, are to be understood as a “contre-attaque” in the sense of an increase in energy. As Konstantin Umansky wrote in 1920, “Tatlinism” claimed that the picture as such was dead: “The flat canvas is too restricted for what is three-dimensional.”

In Tatlin’s words of 1920: “We no longer believe in the eye: we are subordinating the eye to the sense of touch.” His counter-reliefs shook painting to its foundations and at the same time created a new understanding of artistic material. In them Tatlin worked like a poet with his materials, which he liberated from their function of representation. Characteristic of his art is a finely calculated economy of means. Tatlin’s counter-reliefs all have something of the nature of a happening. They give an impression of floating in a state of high tension. Rather than standing on any particular point, they are suspended in a rigging that replaces the plinth of earlier statues.

The compositional principle contains a clear anti-static component: what is presented is a game between gravity and the negation of gravity. These works are all about distance, about the space in between, a space that is at once real and yet situated in the realm of the imagination. In literally material terms, Tatlin shifts his art into the sphere of the here-and-now; by experimenting with sculptural forms he generates the present.

Revolution, architecture and utopia –Tatlin’s tower
Few twentieth-century works of art have acquired such a legendary status as Tatlin’s projected Monument to the Third International of 1919–20, which was to have been 400 metres tall. For various reasons – Civil War, lack of material resources, and the technological limitations of the time – it was never realized. The monument – set parallel to the earth’s axis with four inner bodies rotating each on its own axis at various speeds in accordance with cosmological rhythms and laws – would have been the seat of the hierarchically and justly organized government of a new social order. The rotating spatial bodies of Tatlin’s “world machine” are indicative of revolution in both senses of the word. In 1920 Nikolai Punin praised the design as “an international event within the world of art” and saw it as “the organic synthesis of the principles of architecture, sculpture and painting.” Had it been built, the tower would have represented the logical extension of the principles of time and space developed in Tatlin’s counter-reliefs, and would have made possible a new experience of space in certain senses not dissimilar to that of flying. Tatlin’s tower project acted as a catalyst in the discussion conducted by figures such as Leon Trotsky and Anatoly Lunacharsky about how life, art and the state were to function in the young post-revolutionary Soviet Union; now it ranks as an inspirational and interpretational work of the highest order. In the course of the rediscovery of Tatlin’s œuvre since the 1960s, the lost model of the tower has been reconstructed in a number of different variants. The exhibition in Basel is to juxtapose the two most outstanding examples – from Moscow and Paris – and bring them into dialogue. This spectacular presentation will generate illuminating insights into the way Tatlin’s work has been received and will help visitors to understand the factors that led to its creation.

The flight of the Letatlin
The 1920s saw Tatlin engaging in a search for new dimensions in human flight. In 1929/32 he gave expression to the dreams of a collectively regulated society with his visionary flying machine Letatlin. With his strong penchant for mysticism, Tatlin considered that flying was a kind of primordial human experience lost in the course of evolution and wished to reappropriate it for modern man. Letatlin – a flying machine displaying a remarkable synthesis of art, technology and utopia – can be regarded as the culmination and end result of the exploration of the scope and limits of sculpture that the artist began in Tsarist times with his counter-reliefs and raised onto a monumental scale with the revolutionary tower model. Tatlin’s highly suggestive flying sculpture can be interpreted variously as a metaphor for acceleration, a vehicle for extending the imagination, or a deus ex machina of modernism. However we interpret it, Tatlin’s dream of flying was to remain unfulfilled – even today, Letatlin has not yet left the ground.

The theatre as the stage of the new world
Tatlin had a life-long interest in theatre. He was a passionate admirer of Richard Wagner’s opera The Flying Dutchman, with which his own life had certain elements in common. Tatlin took its gripping musical sea- and soul-scapes and attempted to match them with a late Romantic Rayonist painted equivalent, taking tone colour and translating it into colour combinations full of drama and life. The peak of Tatlin’s creative work for the theatre came in 1923 with his staging of Velimir Chlebnikov’s futuristic super saga Zangezi. Tatlin decided “to juxtapose the word constructions with a material construction.” For Tatlin the linguistic material of poetry and the materials of visual art were two articulations of the same world energy. The fascination of his avant-gardistic experiment with Zangezi lay in the synesthetic correspondences he discovered between sounds, colours, textures and light.

Today Tatlin still retains his power to fascinate because his work was always done in the light of the total social context and with the intention of bringing about change. Furthermore, almost a century ago, he paved the way for currents that have still not lost their relevance and power to inspire in the field of contemporary art. Tatlin had no fear of stepping beyond the bounds of his field and liked to work collectively. He was a master of inter-disciplinarity and synthesis, in the art of bringing things and materials together, and of techniques and forms of presentation that were entirely unprecedented in his day.

From 6 June to 14 October the Tinguely Museum in Basel will show over one hundred works on loan from Moscow (Tretyakov-Gallery; A.A. Bakhrushin State Central Theatre Museum, Moscow; State Archive for Literature and Art; Schusev Museum of Architecture; Museum of the Moscow Art Theatre), St. Petersburg (Russian Museum), Kostroma (Museum for History, Architecture and the Visual Arts), Wiesbaden (Museum Wiesbaden), Friedrichshafen (Zeppelin Museum), Vienna (Austrian Theatre Museum), Paris (Centre Georges Pompidou), London (Annely Juda Fine Art; Grosvenor Gallery), Thessaloniki (State Museum of Contemporary Art – Costakis Collection), Penza (Russia), and Athens.

Curator and Catalogue
The exhibition curator is Gian Casper Bott. The retrospective exhibition will be accompanied by a catalogue that will present the life and work of Vladimir Tatlin in the light of the latest research, with contributions by Simon Baier, Gian Casper Bott, Dmitrii Dimakov, Jürgen Harten, Yevgraf Kipatop, Nathalie Leleu, Maria Lipatova, Anna Szech, David Walsh, and Roland Wetzel.

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June 19 2012

Bernhard Leitner: Sound Suit / Georg Kargl Fine Arts, Art 43 Basel

At this year’s Art Basel art fair, the Vienna-based gallery Georg Kargl Fine Arts showed a unique piece of art that was created by the Austrian sound sculptor Bernhard Leitner. The artwork is titled Sound Suit (Ton-Anzug) and was realized by Leitner in 1975. The Sound Suit is a jumpsuit with four loudspeakers attached to it. The sound travels between the speakers and creates an audio sculpture.

On the occasion of the presentation of Bernhard Leitner’s Sound Suit, VernissageTV had the chance to speak with the artist. In this conversation with Dr. Bettina Krogemann, Bernhard Leitner talks about the concept of the Ton-Anzug and his work in general.

For more information on the artist and a video tour of his major retrospective at Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin (2008), visit Bernhard Leitner: Sound Space Sculpture / Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart, Berlin.

Bernhard Leitner: Sound Suit / Georg Kargl Fine Arts, Art 43 Basel. Basel (Switzerland), June 13, 2012.

> Right-click (Mac: ctrl-click) this link to download Quicktime video file.
> On YouTube:


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June 18 2012

Art 43 Basel 2012: Art Parcours Night

Art Parcours is a project of Art Basel that invites Art Basel’s visitors to discover the city via Art. This year Art Parcours explores the area around St. Johann. That’s very practical for us, as VernissageTV has its offices in this area of the city. Art Parcours St. Johann is curated by Jens Hoffmann, Director of the CCA Wattis Institute in San Francisco. It’s the third issue of Art Parcours and features site-specific works and performances, which deal with the history of Basel and the Basel of today. The artistic interventions were proposed by the Art Basel galleries and curated by Jens Hoffmann.

This video provides you with a tour of Art Parcours on the Art Parcours Night with works by Claude Lévêque (Ring of Fire, 2011 / Galerie Kamel Mennour, Paris); Los Carpinteros (150 People, 2012 / Galeria Fortes Vilaça, Sao Paulo and Sean Kelly Gallery, New York); Maria Nordman (Actions in Real Time With any Person(s) Arriving, 2012 – ongoing / Marian Goodman Gallery, New York); Aleksandra Mir (LA 600, 2012, Magazzino, Roma); Pedro Reyes (Baby Marx, 2008 – present / Galeria Luisa Strina, Sao Paulo); Dieter Roth (The Studio of Dieter and Björn Roth, 1995 – 2008 / Hauser & Wirth, Zürich); Abraham Cruzvillegas (Autoconstrucción, 2009 /Kurimanzutto, Mexico D.F.); Rodney Graham (Small Modernist Paintings, 2005 – ongoing / 303 Gallery, Hauser & Wirth, Johnen Galerie, Lisson Gallery, Donald Young Gallery); Allan Kaprow (Push and Pull: A Furniture Comedy for Hans Hofmann, 1963/2012 Reinvention by Mateo Tannatt / Hauser & Wirth Zürich); Pawel Althamer (Bruno, 1998-2012 / Foksal Gallery Foundation Warszawa and neugerriemschneider Berlin); Henrik Hakansson (Monarch – The Eternal, 2008 / Meyer Riegger, The Modern Institute, Galleria Franco Noero); Eduardo Basualdo (L’Innombrable, 2012 / Ruth Benzacar Galería de Arte Buenos Aires); Simon Dybbroe Moller (Animate V, 2012 / Laura Bartlett Gallery London, Galerie Kamm, Berlin); Kathryn Andrews (Voix de Ville, 2012).

Art 43 Basel: Art Parcours Night. Basel (Switzerland), June 13, 2012.

> Right-click (Mac: ctrl-click) this link to download Quicktime video file.
> On YouTube:


Photo set:

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