Incorporate Courbet into your Swiss city break
I’ve written about many European exhibitions and artists in my blogging history, yet never before has one been dedicated to the 19th-century French painter, Gustave Courbet, one of the forerunners of the classic modernist genre. Opening today (September 7th) at the Fondation Beyeler just outside Basel is a retrospective, the first in Switzerland for 15 years, devoted to this artist’s extensive portfolio, with pioneering works from all phases of his artistic career on display, including many rarely seen in public.
Naturally, the exhibition begins with Courbet’s early years, particularly complex self-portraits which allowed him access into the Parisian art scene, with emphasis also given to his scenes of nature: streams, springs, rock formations and caves, particularly in the winter time. You’ll also see a collection of his mysterious female nude scenes, with pride of place going to The Origin of the World.
The Fondation’s permanent collection is also worth a viewing. Gifted to the organisation by Hildy and Ernst Beyeler in 1982, the collection comprises some 200 classic modernist works from the 20th century including paintings by Monet, Rodin, Cézanne, Klee, Chagall, van Gogh, Picasso, Pollock, Kandinsky, Rothko, Warhol and Bacon, in addition to some 25 objects of tribal art from Africa, Oceania and Alaska.
Running until January 18th, 2015, the Fondation Beyeler is open daily from 10am until 6pm with late-night opening until 8pm on Wednesdays. Entrance costs CHF 25 (11 – 19 years: CHF 19, under 11s free). Your best bet is to get the tram from Basel’s main station, the journey takes approximately 25 minutes.
If you’re opting for a Swiss city break, why not consider a multi-centre holiday by throwing Geneva, a mere 2 ½ hours south west of Basel by scenic train ride along the shores of Lakes Neuchatel and Geneva, into the mix too? Over at the Musée Rath, situated on the Place Neuve, is a complementary Courbet exhibition, this version devoted to the artist’s years in Switzerland (1873 – 1877), otherwise known as les années suisses. Running until January 5th, 2015, this particular exhibition looks at the final four years of Courbet’s life in Switzerland and his creative output and is open daily (except Mondays) from 11am until 6pm.