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Piet Mondrian, Barnett Newmann, Dan Flavin

Kunstmuseum Basel only until January, 19

(Picture: Dan Flavin, untitled (in memory of Urs Graf), 1972/1975. © ProLitteris, Zürich)

By Shirley L. Kearney

If this exhibition has not been on your must-see list, there are just a few days for you to let just a few colours, grid paintings and luminous neon tubes put you into a meditative state. A calming and easy slide into 2014 for the eyes and soul, for example during the “Museumsnacht” (night of the museums) at Friday, January, 17.

The three artists are represented with major works from the Kunstmuseum’s permanent collection. These have been augmented by loans from major collections and museums in Europe and the USA. An intriguing work is lent by The Migros Museum for Contemporary Art in Zurich.

Piet Mondrian (1872-1944), most often recognized by his yellow, red, blue, black, white and grey grid paintings, opens the show. Barnett Newmann (1905-1970) reduces large paintings to one colour, creating a sublime sensation of immersion. Dan Flavin (1933-1996) opted for everyday fluorescent tubes as his media. The works are hypnotising.

Another plus for the Kunstmuseum is the permanent green, blue, pink and yellow neon-tube installation that Dan Flavin placed in the four corners of the courtyard in 1975. It has been a mystery to many people why they are known as “in memory of Urs Graf”, a Swiss artist and engraver (c. 1485-1529). However, this refers to the rich representation of this rather wild individual at the Museum. On an overcast day, or at night, the softness of the lights magically turn the space into gentleness.


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