August 31 - October 29, 2019
The paintings from the celebrated collection of Rudolf Staechelin (1881–1946) are returning to Basel,
after a four-year interval in which the pictures were shown (with works from the Im Obersteg Collection) in widely acclaimed exhibitions at the Museo Nacional Reina Sofia in Madrid and the Phillips Collection in Washington. Now, from the end of August 2019, nineteen outstanding examples of Impressionism, Post- Impressionism and Classic Modernism are to be seen at the Fondation Beyeler in Riehen. The paintings, by Paul Cézanne, Edgar Degas, Paul Gauguin, Vincent van Gogh, Ferdinand Hodler, Édouard Manet, Claude Monet, Pablo Picasso, Camille Pissarro, and Auguste Renoir, are currently displayed together in a dedicated presentation. Subsequently, individual pictures will be included in the periodically rehung exhibition of the Fondation Beyeler’s permanent collection. Thus the works from the Rudolf Staechelin Collection will be publicly accessible again in Basel, where a new chapter begins in the collection’s eventful history.
Pablo Picasso, "Arlequin au loup", 1918
The figure of the Harlequin, deriving from the Italian tradition of commedia dell’arte, evolved over the years in France into a popular character combining humor with elements of melancholy. The Harlequin surfaces very early in Picasso’s work, especially in the paintings of the Rose Period, but also in the artist’s Cubist phase. In a sketchbook from 1916, Harlequin figures appear in widely varying guises, some depicted in a seemingly Cubist style, with others in a naturalistic manner. At this point Picasso was especially occupied with theater and ballet, designing stage sets and costumes for Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes. The painting "Arlequin au loup" shows a theatrical figure rendered with an astonishing degree of realism. Picasso places the Harlequin in front of a white curtain; the head and hat are slightly tilted, the mouth closed. The arm and hand gestures are eloquent. Rudolf Staechelin bought this work in 1918, the year of its completion.
Vincent van Gogh, "Le jardin de Daubigny", July 1890
"Le jardin de Daubigny" was painted in Auvers-sur-Oise, where Vincent van Gogh spent the last two months of his life. The work is one of thirteen paintings in the wide, double-square format that the artist began to use in mid-June 1890. With his dynamic, powerful brushwork, van Gogh gave expression to his own, very personal view of the garden in summertime and the property in the background. This is a nurtured and secluded place of retreat, as demonstrated by the carefully laid-out flower beds and the trees that line the garden, for example. Yet in his panoramic depiction, Van Gogh also emphasizes the garden’s scale and movement. Technical investigations of the weave pattern of van Gogh’s canvases, carried out by the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, revealed that the canvas for all of the painter’s double-square pictures was cut from the same roll. The canvas for Le jardin de Daubigny from the Rudolf Staechelin Collection and for Champ aux meules de blé in the Beyeler Collection are now reunited in this exhibition.
Édouard Manet, "Tête de femme", 1870
The female portrait is one of the most frequent and richly varied subjects in Édouard Manet’s oeuvre. The painter depicted women in their social roles in public spaces, taking inspiration from the models of classical antiquity, but also, as in the painting Tête de femme, creating individual studies in a highly personal style. The woman portrayed here, whose identity has never been conclusively established, is rendered as a half-length figure, seen frontally and in close-up. The dark back-ground and sitter’s garments are created in loose brushstrokes. In her face, the color condenses into an opaque layer of paint from which the eyes, in particular, stand out. The impression conveyed is that the subject finds direct eye contact with the painter disagreeable at such close range, as if she were trying to avoid his scrutiny by turning her upper body slightly to one side and tilting her head. Her averted gaze becomes the sole element of action in the picture. A spatial field of tension arises in the area between the sitter looking away on the one hand, and the painter as well as the viewer looking closely on the other.
Paul Cézanne, "Verre et pommes", 1879–1882
The still life plays a central role in the work of Paul Cézanne. Through this genre, the artist incessantly explored the principles of painting, especially with regard to compositional structure. Apples that he arranged on a table were one of his preferred motifs. These compositions are artfully balanced: the apples lie in two groups of three on the table, with a green “solitaire” between them, placed slightly to the front. The tabletop, the upper edge of which divides the canvas into two halves, emphasizes the flatness of the picture, the apples its spatiality. Cézanne plays with surface, space and the importance of color. A contrast to the apples is provided by the transparent glass, which also stands on the table, reflecting the light at right angles to the edge of the table and the napkin. This accent of white is continued in the cloth and imbued with a sense of movement. With the red and green apples, Cézanne employs an apparently simple motif to show us how a picture and our own perception work.