Kunstmuseum Basel announces 2023 programme: Fauves, Andrea BŁttner, Charmion von Wiegand and Shirley Jaffe

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Kunstmuseum Basel announces 2023 programme: Fauves, Andrea BŁttner, Charmion von Wiegand and Shirley Jaffe
Charmion Von Wiegand, Triptych, Number 700, 1961. Oil and graphite pencil on linen, three parts, 107.3 x 138 cm. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, Gift of Alvin M. Greenstein.

BASEL.- The Kunstmuseum Basel announced the exhibitions for 2023. The programme includes outstanding female artists, some of whom are little known in Switzerland: in spring, the work of Shirley Jaffe, who came to Paris from the USA in 1949 and was inspired by Abstract Expressionism, can be discovered. At the same time, Charmion von Wiegand was fuelled by the encounter of Piet Mondrian in New York. Both painters later developed their very own formal language.

The German artist Andrea Büttner, on the other hand, who will be exhibiting at Haus Gegenwart in the summer, has been creating paintings on major social themes since the early 2000s.

In autumn, the first floor of the Neubau belongs to the Fauves – the "wild animals", as they were maliciously called. The group around Henri Matisse and André Derain unshackled the painting scene in Paris between 1904 and 1908 by putting an end to the dictates of imitating nature. The Kunstmuseum Basel's presentation will focus on the impact of this important movement, and particularly explore the work of female Fauves and the dealers the propelled the painters' work in the early 20th century.†

Andrea Büttner
The Heart of Relations
22 April – 1 October 2023, Kunstmuseum Basel | Gegenwart, Neubau, Hauptbau Curator: Maja Wismer

German artist Andrea Büttner (*1972 in Stuttgart) first began creating images on subjects as employment, poverty, shame and forms of coexistence, as well as on deeper lying societal influences issuing from systems of belief—whether of religious or secular origin— in the early 2000s. To render tangible these subjects, the artist draws on a broad spectrum of artistic forms. Already well known for her large-scale wood engravings, Büttner†has since gone on to further develop a wide range of media. In addition to wood engravings and etchings, these comprise, among other things, books, glass objects, video installation.

Andrea Büttner’s exhibitions are voluminous, space-filling “narratives”, which visitors experience unfolding gradually. Held at the Kunstmuseum Basel, the show entitled Andrea Büttner. The Heart of Relations brings together different narrative threads, such as care in monastic forms of cohabitation with those of forced labour in biodynamic agriculture during the National Socialist era. One further thread, the representational traditions of public shame, is linked to traces of the daily use of smartphones, as seen for example, in the fingerprints left on devices. Büttner’s spatial narratives make tangible the ambivalences embedded in established half-truths.

In recent years, Andrea Büttner’s work has been exhibited by international institutions as solo exhibitions, among other venues, by the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles; the Kunst Halle Sankt Gallen; the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis; the Tate Britain in London and the MMK Museum für Moderne Kunst in Frankfurt a.M.

Charmion von Wiegand
25 March – 13 August 2023, Kunstmuseum Basel | Neubau Curator: Maja Wismer in collaboration with Martin Brauen

The 12 August 1941 proved to be a momentous and memorable event in the life of Charmion von Wiegand, born in Chicago, in 1896. Having long- since established her reputation as a journalist and critic, von Wiegand met with Piet Mondrian, then living in exile and residing in his New York studio. The two became friends. Von Wiegand was profoundly interested in Mondrian and in Neo- Plasticism, the stylistic movement pivotal to Mondrian’s artistic practice. Fuelled by this encounter, she embarked on an intensive painting†career. Though having already leased a studio in 1925, it had until then served her for research and writing activities.

Initially, and in contrast to Mondrian’s approach, the works completed from 1941 onwards featured primarily organic forms. Von Wiegand introduced other colours in addition to the primary colours characteristic of Neo-Plasticism. Over time, she gradually evolved her own characteristic conception of abstraction. Following Mondrian’s death in 1944, she gave herself over entirely to the development of her artistic work. By this time, she turned to collage and, furthermore, augmented her work by introducing spiritual and theoretical approaches, notably elements drawn from Buddhism.

The exhibition Charmion von Wiegand focuses on this exceptional, though unjustly ignored, twentieth-century artist who had from the outset cultivated and visualised transcultural open- mindedness and diversity. The present show testifies to her artistic output as well as her pronounced sensitivity towards non-Western cultures or the work of other artists.

Shirley Jaffe
Form as Experiment
25 March – 30 July 2023, Kunstmuseum Basel | Neubau
Curators: Olga Osadtschy (Kunstmuseum Basel), Frédéric Paul (Centre Pompidou Paris)

†Born in New Jersey in 1923 as Shirley Sternstein, in 1949, the artist, now Mrs Jaffe, moved to Paris. Following her short-lived marriage to the journalist Irving Jaffe, the painter decided to remain in France. Having soon established herself in the city, she held regular contact with the American “art expats” Norman Bluhm, Sam Francis, and Joan Mitchell, who had relocated to Paris somewhat later. Her work dating from this period may be attributed to Abstract Expressionism, a form that sought to draw exclusively from its own resources and which consisted primarily of wildly applied fields of colour and gestures. Although, for the art market at the time, this amounted to a success formula Jaffe nevertheless decided to strike out in a different direction.

A Ford Foundation scholarship facilitated her relocation to West Berlin for a year in 1963. Life in the then divided city—a divided world—together with the death of John F. Kennedy in the same year and various other new influences, such as the music of Karlheinz Stockhausen, brought about a shift in her stylistic direction. She drew inspiration, furthermore, from the European abstraction of Wassily Kandinsky and of Sophie Taeuber-Arp. Over the course of her stay in Berlin, her colour fields acquired more monochromatic and geometric forms; like Lego pieces or brightly coloured paper snippets, they dance here and there, fluttering through the abstract- expressive passages of her canvases.

Positioned to the left were the completed works, to the right were those yet to be finished. They were separated by a space of five metres. And so lived and worked the artist: From 1969 onwards, she resided in her Paris studio apartment in Rue Saint-Victor, where she was to remain until her death in 2016. The above-mentioned five-metre space may also be read metaphorically as a space signifying opposites—America and Europe, abstract and geometric, enigmatic yet highly accessible art.

The Kunstmuseum Basel Collection has recently acquired a significant group of works from the artist’s oeuvre. One further reason for rediscovering Shirley Jaffe’s evocative painting and for celebrating this revelation by staging this exceptional and wide-ranging special exhibition.

The exhibition is organized by the Centre Pompidou, Paris in collaboration with the Kunstmuseum Basel and the Musée Matisse, Nice.

The exhibition Shirley Jaffe. An American Woman in Paris was presented at the Centre Pompidou from April 20 to August 29, 2022. The exhibition will take place at the Musée Matisse from October 11, 2023 to January 8, 2024.

Matisse, Derain and Friends. The Paris Avantgarde 1904-1908
2 September 2023– 21 January 2024, Kunstmuseum Basel | Neubau Curators: Arthur Fink, Claudine Grammont, Josef Helfenstein

At the outset of the twentieth century, a loosely affiliated group of artists centring around Henri Matisse, André Derain and Maurice de Vlaminck conducted revolutionary experiments in colour. The name Fauves was bestowed on the group in 1905 by art critic Louis Vauxcelles. He first employed “fauves” in one of his articles; the term, which in English translates as “wild beasts” or “wild animals”, was intended to characterise the clique of artists who remained little known prior to 1905. It was in the group’s expressive approach to the application of colour, its striking, often virulent colour schemes, as well the rejection of naturalistic renderings of local colours, that Vauxcelles discerned the break with academic precedent.

Fauvism was to emerge as the twentieth- century’s premier avant-garde movement. For a brief period between the years 1904–1908, it set the pace in the Paris art scene, whereby its impact endured long into the future. Georges Braque, Raoul Dufy and Kees van Dongen, among others, were to later join the movement.

Fauvism coincided with the Belle Époque, an era which heralded the rapid rise of urban mass society. Fast-emerging mobility and the nascent advertising and tourism industries.

This comprehensive special exhibition at the Kunstmuseum Basel shows the Fauves’ outstanding experimentation with colour. Conventional perceptions as to the style of this movement, which left such an indelible stamp on modernism, are also called into question. The show features work by the artists Émilie Charmy and Marie Laurencin, and thus for the first time provides insights into the trade in Fauvist art, a trade in which gallerist Berthe Weill was to play a decisive role.

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