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Kandinsky & Marc: leaders of an art movement at Beyeler

A special exhibition at the Fondation Beyler in Riehen shows works of pioneers of modern 20th century art.

By Shirley L. Kearney

In Munich during 1911 an exhibition organized by avant-garde artists ushered in a new way of depicting colour and form by freeing both from concrete visual representation, thereby giving colour its own free-standing value – colour as colour and contours free of lines. Colour is valued for what it is, and not simply to fill a form or be directed by lines. It is set free from its goal of depicting things to simply being colour. Form is voluntary: to represent ideas and not reproduce visual reality. The movement slowed down in 1914 with onset of the First World War, but quickly regained momentum. It remains a pioneer of modern 20th century art.

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Franz Marc: Liegender Hund im Schnee, 1910/1911. Öl auf Leinwand, 62,5 x 105 cm, Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main, Eigentum des Städelschen Museums-Verein e.V. © Städel Museum – ARTOTHEK

The leaders of the movement were Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944) and Franz Marc (1880-1916). Kandinsky gradually changed from “form” paintings, to introducing musical overtones to his works. Many of Kandinsky’s oeuvres passed through the hands of Ernst Beyeler (1920-2010). Two remained in his possession: Improvisation 10 (1910) and Fugue (1914); they form the basis of this exhibition. Music flows beyond the canvas borders. Marc flooded space with free-flowing and all-embracing colourful animals.

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Wassily Kandinsky: Fuga, 1914. Öl auf Leinwand, 129,5 x 129,5 cm, Fondation Beyeler, Riehen/Basel, Sammlung Beyeler. Foto: Robert Bayer, Basel

For over 30 years, no comprehensive exhibition devoted to this beguiling phase in modern art has been mounted in Switzerland. Collectively, around 70 artworks and 90 exhibits bring the legendary Almanac, a pseudonym for Der Blaue Reiter, published by Kandinsky and Marc in 1912, to Riehen. The Fondation Beyeler wholeheartedly portrays this period through old photographs, a media room relating the background of the movement’s members, digital representations, and the anticipated and “normal” showcase.

Kandinsky, Marc & Der Blaue Reiter
Fondation Beyeler
4 September 2016 – 22 January 2017
Open daily, 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m., Wednesdays, 10:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.
For information about admission charges please click this link.

Front page picture: Wassily Kandinsky: Komposition VII, 1913. Öl auf Leinwand, 200 x 300 cm, Staatliche Tretjakow-Galerie, Moskau, © Galerie nationale Tretiakov

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