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A private collection, from Mannerism to Surrealism on view at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection
Andy Warhol (1928 –1987), Skull, 1976 –77. Synthetic polymer paint and silkscreen on canvas. 38.1 × 48.3 cm. Private collection© The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts Inc., by SIAE 2014.

VENICE.- The Peggy Guggenheim Collection presents For Your Eyes Only. A Private Collection, from Mannerism to Surrealism. Curated by Andreas Beyer, professor of art history at the University of Basel, this exhibition is the first to present to the general public the Richard and Ulla Dreyfus-Best Collection, which was collected by the Basel-based collectors over the course of more than thirty years.

A handful of works in this exhibition have occasionally been exhibited in major international exhibitions, but they have never before been exhibited in the context of the entire collection to which they belong. With a selection of about 110 objects, including artefacts, paintings, drawings and sculptures ranging from the Middle Ages to the present, For Your Eyes Only. A Private Collection, from Mannerism to Surrealism reveals the essence of the art of collecting and contributes significantly to the ongoing debate regarding the impact and power of art over the centuries. At a time when “crossovers”—of media techniques, and genres—shape perceptions of art in general, the Dreyfus-Best Collection is both prescient and exemplary. In assembling their collection, the collectors held to strict principles that excluded random elements of chance. Their essential criteria included an insistence on works of originality and quality, while requiring that all works specifically reference “artifice”. The outcome is a truly distinct and contemporary “cabinet of curiosities.”

The Richard and Ulla Dreyfus-Best Collection, a unique Gesamtkunstwerk, juxtaposes secular works of art with ars erotica or ars religiosa from as early as the 12th century; Renaissance and Baroque master drawings share space with the arcane worlds of Surrealist painting; eccentric visions of the eighteenth century encounter the fantastic artifices of Mannerism; Symbolism and Pop Art meet on common ground. The thread that ties all these works is an artificiality that continually probes and experiments with our own limits of understanding. The collection presents works by, amongst others, Hans Baldung Grien, Hans Bellmer, Arnold Böcklin, Victor Brauner, Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Angelo Caroselli, Giorgio de Chirico, Francesco Clemente, Salvador Dalí, Francesco del Nomé (‘Monsù Desiderio’), Gustave Doré, Max Ernst, Frans Floris, Johann Heinrich Füssli, Marten van Heemskerk, Jan van Kessel, Alfred Kubin, René Magritte, Man Ray, Gustave Moreau, Richard Oelze, Yves Tanguy and Andy Warhol.

This exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue – published by Hatje Cantz in Italian, English and German – and contains essays by curator Andreas Beyer and by Christian Müller, Bodo Brinkmann, Seraina Werthemann and Philip Rylands, with a contribution by Giulia Mazzolani.

For Your Eyes Only. A Private Collection, from Mannerism to Surrealism has been co-organized by the Peggy Guggenheim Collection and the Kunstmuseum Basel, Switzerland, where the show will take place from September 21 2014 to January 4 2015.

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