Fascinating vs Exquisite

Alter returning from an extended trip a few days ago, I would like to share a number of impressions resulting from this very eventful and enriching experience.

It is quite difficult to be able to discern and get to the nature and root of the many sensations and emotions awakened by our daily environment, and this is enhanced even further in the world we define as “of the arts”.

Let us leave aside for a moment the commercial aspect of it, and the “dance of millions” prevailing in auctions and the most renowned galleries worldwide.

The Basel Fair (in its original version) is by far the best and most complete event of this nature with regard to the quality of the works exhibited as well as the surrounding dynamics it creates. Walking along its aisles affords the discovery of new pieces, and in the encounter of what a dear colleague calls “lasagna” , all the elements are present : curators, museum directors, customers, artists, representatives of insurance companies , very luxurious objects , the fact of being able to identify the artists behind each work of art …all of this translates into feverish activity and provides ongoing incentive.

Every Museum and other art related institutions prepare for this event. The Beyeler Foundation presented a grand Matisse retrospective.Contrary to the custom of selecting a specific period of an artist whenever such a complexexhibit is organized,in this case no efforts were sparedinto what was the most encompassing and overall display of the artist’s work and its excellent curatorship provided a source of great enjoyment.

This most special atmosphere was further enhanced as the path took me to the neighboring hall: large canvasses of a lateRothko period (black and grey) covered the walls, while elongated Albert Giacometti sculptures sprang up in every corner, against the background of thespring greenlawn coveringthe expanded gardenthat couldbe seen through the large window pane.

The combination of Rothko’svelvety surfaces , the almost mysterious and sensuoustransformation of space, and the sheercomfort offamiliar workscreated a mostunexpected yet deeply movinggratification ..

The sampling of Daros Foundation awoke a similar sensation with Ernesto Neto’s installation. Footwear has to be removed upon entering this fascinating created interior . Tensed membranes, at the same time involving soft shapes, the tactile topography , inviting to explore every segment of this “cavern” space , so delicately conceived, awakens all the senses…….Once again, a true sense of well being, this time triggered by a whole different set up.

The exhibit of Hans Holbein le Jeune was also a source of enlightenment: The XVI century and its technical mastery, which is sadly overlookedas weseek for extreme sensationsin the framework of contemporary plastic arts. German by birth, he spent a long time in Basel . A quite unusual color in present time (aqua blue) appears repeatedly as background ,entailing some unexpected abstract segments , and framing the delicately composed figures made in minute details..

Thus we continue our journey, watching ’Zidane’ byPhilippe Parennoand Douglas Gordon the documentary shown at the stadium.Aportrait of the starfilmed in real time and space during the Soccer World Cup and before the unforeseen incidentduring the final match.Seventeen cameras in simultaneous synchronization, combining super 35. and high digital definitioncapturing Zidane’s every movement andgesture . Live sound helps to closely link the player, his psychological state of mind, his movements and the fans.

In this connection I also have to bring up the fact that the sales during Christie’s and Sotheby’s sales auctions reached record figures. As to some of the Galleries,not only does one have to stand in a long line to obtain work from the “hot” artists, butan interview to verify that the potential client “qualifies” to be the “deserving owner” of the artist’s work is an additional requirement!! I leave it up to your judgement!

I found the new “montage”of the Tate Modern fascinating, its vision of the historical development of last century’s art, as well as the selection of recent acquisitions.

Even though experiments and proposals of the plastic arts during the various periods of the 1900’s were quite daring at the time,I believe that the “art” of breaching beyond the barriers of establishmenttakes it much farther at present .

Daring and potentially aggressive, these are irregular uneven proposals requiring an interpretation effort by the spectator. Furthermore, for a full understanding of the artist’s work, it demands extended research .Thus both the context as well as the history surrounding every piece ,attach to it values that are even more subjective than in previous time, an exercise which removes us from a primary and instinctive response. An interesting decantation process which, if conducted repeatedly, starts to develop an entirely different dynamic for it’s viewing .

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I invite you to experience and make your comments in the box bellow about this text,and the work that appears in this webpage.

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Iris Ramler Stein
Iris Ramler Stein