From the circus and play as forms of pure poetic expression to art conceived for the public realm
Joan MirÃ³ and Alexander Calder met each other in 1928 in Paris, when the avant-garde was at its heyday. They developed a close friendship that ended only with Calder's death in 1976. Based on selected groups of works, our forthcoming exhibition focuses on themes that were important to both artists, from the circus and play as forms of pure poetic expression to art conceived for the public realm. Shared artistic strategies and working methods, such as the employment of randomly determined organic shapes or spatial arrangements, are also represented in the exhibition.
It amounts to a visual dialogue with flowing transitions, bringing together nearly sixty paintings by MirÃ³ and seventy mobiles and stabiles by Calder. Another emphasis lies on their shared interest in an art integrated in overall spatial contexts, which helped them overcome traditional categories in art. The presentation includes truly spectacular loans, such as all of MirÃ³'s early mural cycles and a number of paintings that led up to them. His frieze for the nursery of Pierre Loeb, dating to 1933, has been lent for the first time ever.
Calder's approach to sculpture, which enabled him to achieve monumentality even on a small scale, paved the way for his interventions in the public space, which are amply represented here by early stabiles and large-scale mobiles. The collaboration at the Terrace Plaza Hotel in Cincinnati during MirÃ³'s first trip to the United States, illustrated by his monumental Cincinnati Mural Painting and Calder's mobile Twenty Leaves and an Apple â€“ both on loan for the first time â€“ forms the climax and chronological conclusion of the exhibition.
The project was initiated by Elizabeth Hutton Turner of The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C., and realized in collaboration with Oliver Wick, guest curator at the Fondation Beyeler.
Catalogue of the special exhibition
The catalogue, published in German and English by Philip Wilson Publishers, London, contains essays by Elisabeth Hutton Turner and Oliver Wick, a detailed chronology written from the point of view of the artists' friendship by Susan Behrends Frank, and previously unpublished, illustrated correspondence between Calder and MirÃ³. 312 pages with 135 colour plates and over 150 colour and black and white illustrations in the text (CHF 58.00).
On opening day and each weekend thereafter, David Dimitri will convey an idea of Calder and MirÃ³'s love of the circus in a tightrope performance in Berower Park. For details, please consult the web site
Baselstrasse 101, CH-4125 Riehen / Basel
Opening hours of special exhibition: 10.00 a.m. â€“ 6.00 p.m. daily; Wednesdays until 8.00 p.m.