Beyeler Foundation, Riehen, Switzerland
The Beyeler Foundation with it’s museum in Riehen, a short tram from Basel city centre owns & oversees the art collection of Hildy & Ernst Beyeler. I learned that they museum was built out of a necessity to make provisions to house all the works of art and sculpture that collector and dealer Ernst Beyeler owned. It turned out the most obvious solution to bequest the works to the Kunstmuseum, Basel would not have done the works the justice in the environment to which they would be shown. So Architect Renzo Piano (designer of the Centre Pompidou & London’s Shard) was comissioned to design a new museum. The museum was built in the grounds of the Villa Berower Estate. I started my morning in the most beautiful space, to be able to stand so close to a Monet Water lillies painting was very special.
There are a handful of artists that I will always associate my hours spent in the art block at school with, and two of my favourites were found in the next room I entered, Giacometti & Rothko. How happy I was to be able to walk amongst these giant sculptures that I used to read about all those years ago. What a treat.
The Foundation presented the first ever exhibition ever devoted by a Swiss museum to the American artist Jeff Koons. He’s probably one of the best-known living artists of our generation, and for decades has been causing a furore with his giant balloon sculptures and highly colourful art works. My favourite works are his high-gloss steel balloon sculptures seen here at the Foundation. The scale and colour of these pieces remind me of Anish Kapoor’s work.
THis is Split-Rocker, a colossal floral sculpture in the gardens at the foundation. Comprising of thousands & thousands of real plants it’s been exhibited twice before here in Riehen, once in Avignon in 2000, & then in the gardens of Versailles in 2008.
“For his floral sculpture, Koons proceeded from two different rocker motifs, a pony and a dinosaur, whose heads he cut in half and then reassembled. Since the halves do not coincide, gaps are formed at certain places which open the sculpture out and transform it into an architecture that offers refuges. A disassembled and differently reassembled figure that simultaneously looks forward and to the side, Split-Rocker relates to the Cubism of Picasso while at the same time turning it in an entirely new direction. As a floral outdoor sculpture, the piece also continues the tradition of Baroque garden art and the topiary gardening still seen today in popular amusement parks”. Foundation Beyeler.
That is art life for you. An amazing museum, with a truly remarkable collection of works.