Continuously Contemporary: New Works from the Emanuel Hoffmann Foundation
Kunstmuseum Basel | Gegenwart
January 23, 2021 – January 09, 2022
In celebration of the fortieth anniversary of the Kunstmuseum Basel | Gegenwart, which was founded in 1980, the museum presents a selection of new large-format works and ensembles from the collection of the Emanuel Hoffmann Foundation (EHS). The focus is on works requiring unusual spatial arrangements that have rarely or even never been seen at the Kunstmuseum Basel. The exhibition is divided into three chapters. The first chapter, which was on view from September 2020 until January 2021, showcased works by David Claerbout, Toba Khedoori, Katharina Fritsch, Jeff Wall, and Francis Alÿs.
The current presentation pairs several fresh additions to the Emanuel Hoffmann Foundation’s holdings with older pieces from the collection in encounters that bring out the latter works’ undiminished relevance to the present moment. Despite the fundamental differences between the works by altogether eleven artists, certain common themes emerge. An interrogation of the individual’s position in society and the stances he or she takes in the public space with its social and political connotations is central to the works of Paul Chan, Klara Lidén, Fiona Tan, and Mark Wallinger.
The art of Katharina Fritsch, Alexej Koschkarow, and Monika Sosnowska, meanwhile, grapples with history and memory, with architecture, monuments, and other archetypes. The distinctions between the genuine and the counterfeit, between fake and fact are a fundamental concern not only, but especially in Peter Fischli and Jean-Frédéric Schnyder. What unites all works is the artists’ unerring pursuit of their respective personal creative visions, as reflected in their masterful use of a wide range of techniques and materials.
In addition, there are groups of works by Elizabeth Peyton, Thomas Ruff and Anri Sala. In terms of media – oil painting, photography, and video – the work of these artists could not be more different. Yet certain affinities appear nonetheless, such as their shared focus on the depicted object and the stage-like quality of their representations, or their acoustic components. The latter ranges from a musicality of content, the structural rhythm, or the tonality evoked in our thoughts when considering a motif.
In February 1980, the “Museum für Gegenwartskunst” (Museum of Contemporary Art) on St. Alban-Tal was opened and handed over to the Kunstmuseum and thus to the people of Basel. Its creation was made possible by magnanimous gifts from Maja Sacher-Stehlin, the EHS’s founder, her family, and the Emanuel Hoffmann Foundation itself. It marked a watershed for the European museum scene: Basel was home to the first museum explicitly dedicated to contemporary art and the debates it sparked.
Held in celebration of the anniversary, the exhibition Continuously Contemporary. New Works from the Emanuel Hoffmann Foundation offers a fresh reminder of the extraordinarily rich cultural assets that the EHS generously shares with the Kunstmuseum and the public and demonstrates that the Kunstmuseum Basel | Gegenwart’s galleries still make it one of the finest venues for ambitious contemporary art.