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Von Bartha celebrates 50th anniversary with group exhibition
Imi Knoebel, Fishing Yellow I, 2008. Photo by Ben Koechlin. Image courtesy the artist & von Bartha.

BASEL.- Von Bartha is presenting a group exhibition, The Backward Glance can be a Glimpse into the Future, 5 September – 7 November 2020. Von Bartha celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2020 and this exhibition centres on the subject of the gallery’s 50 year history. The show is on view in the gallery’s Basel space and curated by Swiss curator Beat Wismer. By staging outstanding works from the past hundred years, the exhibition offers reflection on this milestone moment in von Bartha’s history and looks ahead to the future, incorporating works by 45 leading artists including modern artists Camille Graeser, Yves Laloy, Jean Tinguely and contemporary artists Anna Dickinson, Terry Haggerty, and Sarah Oppenheimer.

After 50 successful years, von Bartha is transitioning from the founding generation to the next. The exhibition title highlights this decisive moment, of both reflecting on the past whilst facing ahead to the future. The arc of the exhibition is far-reaching: from contemporary, rigorously conceptual works, to the pioneers of Constructivism from the early 20th century. The exhibition presents works that seem incredibly contemporary, despite being made much earlier, adjacent to recently created works of which many have benefited from and developed the potentials of classical modernism.

Stefan von Bartha, Director, commented: “Fifty years after the gallery first opened its doors, we are delighted to present this group exhibition mapping the most important elements of our history alongside contemporary artists from our programme. For this special exhibition, it was clear that we needed to work with a curator that has extensive knowledge of the contemporary art scene but at the same time, understands the classics within the gallery programme. We found a perfect match in Beat Wismer, and his incredible achievements for both fields within the museum scene make him a great partner in preparing this exhibition. I was actually really flattered that he was excited to join the process and it has been a joyful and interesting experience working together.”

Beat Wismer, Curator, said: “Bringing together exceptional works by over forty artists in one exhibition - across four generations, and with works created over the course of an entire century - is a unique opportunity. The exhibition could be compared to a polyphonic conversation - ambitious and serious, but also sensorial. When situated together, it becomes clear how much the selected works have to say to each other, especially when they consider the "where do we go?" and the "where do we come from?" of art in general, in particular within the context of von Bartha’s programme. The careful staging of the exhibition in von Bartha’s spectacular gallery space is intensified further by the striking exhibition architecture which was designed specifically for the show.”

The gallery’s space, located in a former garage, plays an important role in the staging of The Backward Glance can be a Glimpse into the Future. The exhibition’s architecture draws on this, as well as the various strands that make up the show’s polyphonic narrative, incorporating paintings, sculptures, objects, photographs, videos, and text works. The exhibition is built around the idea of the symposium: in both its contemporary sense of a conference, participating in an open artistic conversation, as well as seeking to evoke the symposium’s original meaning; a convivial gathering appropriate to a festive occasion. The exhibition presents diverse works within a framework which encourages conversation about art: about what it was, what has become of its modern ideas and which paths it could take—especially now, in this very extraordinary time.

Additionally, to mark its 50th anniversary, von Bartha will produce a publication entitled Est. 1970, highlighting the gallery’s most important moments from the beginning in 1970 until today. A selection of the most memorable artworks and exhibitions will be accompanied by never-before published archival material, texts written by the von Bartha family, along with essays by art critic Hans-Joachim Müller and curator Dr. David Iselin.

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