Collection of African art
Coming to the understanding that the art created by peoples untouched by Western civilization possessed autonomous meaning and profound expressivity was of great importance to modernist art. Many European artists such as Picasso and Matisse not only collected works of art from beyond Europe, but they also drew inspiration from their forms and expression. A prime example of this is Picasso's Femme from 1907 in the Fondation, whose facial form is influenced by African masks. So it is altogether logical to do as Hildy and Ernst Beyeler did and supplement a collection of modern Western art with non-European art. Even if these works have been divested of their actual function as objects of cultic veneration invested with supernatural powers, they are displayed in the museum in the belief that they can take their place on an equal footing alongside the works of modern art. Besides, could there be a more appropriate way of presenting these religiously inspired works outside their original cultural context than to exhibit them in the company of pictures by the great masters of modernism?