When a major museum needs to close its doors temporarily for some compelling reason, the art world suffers the loss of valuable access to knowledge and the cultivation of the spirit. Fortunately—in the case of the Kunstmuseum Basel—while the expansion works at its facility take place, a satisfactory alternative was found. The Museum’s recess will not feel too long or overwhelming.
Showing a demonstrations of institutional solidarity—so highly appreciated by art lovers—Madrid’s Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía has provided the Kunstmuseum the Sabatini pavilion to display more than one hundred of the most important works from the Swiss institution. The sample includes the full range of contemporary manifestations of the visual arts: painting, sculpture, collage, installations, sculptural objects, photography and video art.
The gorgeous panoramic display titled White Fire: The Kunstmuseum Basel Modern Collection, showcases works from the late 19th century to the latest trends. The exhibit attempts to provide a comprehensive journey from modern art to the most contemporary artistic expressions. It allows a closer examination of schools and movements as diverse and contrasting as expressionism, cubism, purism, abstraction, constructivism, minimalism, post-German expressionism, postwar American abstraction, and Pop Art.
Thanks to the generous support of the Reina Sofia Museum, the Kunstmuseum Basel— considered the first public municipal museum of art history—will be able to present the best of the modern section of its collection. On view, there will be works by renowned artists such as Edvard Munch, Vassily Kandinsky, Pablo Picasso, Juan Gris, Fernand Léger, Georges Braque, Le Corbusier, Dubuffet, Alberto Giacometti, Yves Tanguy, Hans Arp, André Masson, Max Ernst, Paul Klee, Piet Mondrian, Lazlo Moholy-Nagy, Gerhard Richter, Mark Rothko, Donald Judd, Andy Warhol, Francis Picabia and Pierre Huyghe. The selection includes a total of 170 established artists.
The Kunstmuseum Basel, also known as Basel’s Public Art Collection, is sponsored by the Swiss State, and is headquartered in the oldest part of the city of Basel. Its collection began in 1662, and besides modern art, it features priceless pieces ranging from the 16th century to the present. The Museum’s evolution— as well as the artistic treasure it so jealously protects— are inextricably linked to the history, culture and the sophisticated view of the arts by Swiss society.
White Fire, a curatorial project by Bernhard Mendes Bürgi, Nina Zimmer and Manuel Borja-Villel, is an invitation to appreciate not only a legacy that can be considered essential in the contemporary art scene, but also an attempt to illustrate the social dynamics and selection criteria that gave life and coherence to a collection that ranks among the most valuable global artistic heritage. The exhibition at the Reina Sofia Museum will be on view until September 14, on the first floor of the Sabatini pavilion. ■