Charmion von Wiegand at Kunstmuseum Basel

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Charmion von Wiegand at Kunstmuseum Basel
Charmion von Wiegand (1896–1983), To The Adi Buddha, c.1968–70, oil on canvas, 50 x 27 inches / 127 x 68.6 cm, signed; © Estate of Charmion von Wiegand; Courtesy of Michael Rosenfeld Gallery LLC, New York, NY.

BASEL.- Michael Rosenfeld Gallery this past March 25th opened Charmion von Wiegand at the Kunstmuseum Basel, the first major museum exhibition devoted to the artist in Europe. Originally scheduled to open in September 2020, this long-awaited exhibition brings together works from public and private collections across the United States to introduce European audiences to von Wiegand’s thoroughly transcultural oeuvre, which played a key role in the development of American abstract art in the postwar decades. Charmion von Wiegand presents paintings and collages from each period of the artist’s fifty-year career, demonstrating the thoroughly open-minded, intellectual nature of her practice. The exhibition will end on August 13th, 2023.

Curated by Maja Wismer, the museum’s Head of Art after 1960, Charmion von Wiegand foregrounds the artist’s deep engagement with Eastern thought and culture while underscoring the importance of European modernism in the development of her practice. Stimulated by the thoroughly cosmopolitan environment of postwar America, von Wiegand’s diverse and abundant sources of inspiration are reflected in the complexities of her unique visual language. Apropos of the vital influence the Taoist and Buddhist belief systems had on her work, Charmion von Wiegand was organized in collaboration with Martin Brauen, an anthropologist specializing in the culture of Tibet and the Himalayas who recently authored A Sameness Between Us: The Friendship of Charmion von Wiegand and Piet Mondrian in Letters and Memoirs (Arnoldsche, 2020).

In addition to an in-depth selection of paintings and collages, Charmion von Wiegand brings together a wealth of historical documents, including materials from her political and curatorial undertakings as well as a selection of her writings, which testify to the importance of her criticism within the artistic milieu to which she belonged. One of the few women who achieved success in the realm of American abstract art in the postwar years, von Wiegand conceived an approach to painting that exemplifies the deep engagement with Eastern spiritual and aesthetic philosophies common among the era’s artists and intellectuals—what Haema Sivanesan, Chief Curator of the Glenbow Museum and contributor to the exhibition catalogue, describes as a “transcultural, modern Buddhism.”

A fully illustrated catalogue, Charmion von Wiegand: Expanding Modernism, was published in 2021 in English and German editions; the publication reproduces a trove of primary documents, a selected chronology, and contributions by Wismer, Brauen, Lori Cole, Haema Sivanesan, Nancy J. Troy, and Felix Vogel.

Michael Rosenfeld Gallery is proud to lend seventeen works to this landmark exhibition. Since taking on representation of the estate in 1998, the gallery has mounted five solo exhibitions on Charmion von Wiegand (1896–1983) and produced four catalogues publishing new scholarship on her work, significantly increasing the recognition of the artist’s work among museums, academics, collectors, and general audiences.

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