A selection of the best works from the Beyeler Collection is presented for the first time in public. The exhibition in the Centro de Arte Reina Sofía brings together previous exhibits devoted to private collections, for instance the Panza di Biumo, Nasher, Sonnabend and Phillips collections.
The professional exploits of Ernst Beyeler gain international prestige after he organises his first exhibition in 1947, with his work as a gallerist and the quality of the exhibitions he holds inside and outside the gallery also playing a significant part. Furthermore, his personal collection is also one of the finest private collections in the world of contemporary art.
The Beyeler collection begins to take shape with medium-sized, though far-reaching, works such as Sept baigneurs (circa 1900) by Paul Cézanne and L´Homme qui marche sous la pluie (1948) by Alberto Giacometti. The collection grows as time moves on, and begins to amass large-scale paintings and sculptures until it forms a museum-sized collection of works. It is worth noting, however, that Ernst Beyeler's intention is not to create an exhaustive collection that represents the History of twentieth-century art, but rather the selective and personal unification of artworks.
The Beyeler Collection exhibition in the Centro de Arte Reina Sofía begins with two works by Claude Monet, fundamental to the field of painting: La cathédrale de Rouen: le portail (1984) and the nine-metre long triptych Le bassin aux nymphéas (1917-1920). Likewise, the painting by Henri Rousseau Le lion, ayant faim, se jette sur l’antilope (1898-1905) also stands out in this private collection.
The importance of the exhibited works by Paul Cézanne such as Chemin du Mas Jolie au Château noir (1900-1902) and Nature morte avec pastèque entamée (1900) provide an understanding of Cubist paintings by Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque and Fernand Léger, combined for the exhibition. Furthermore, the close, and by no means casual, relationship with later artists such as Piet Mondrian in Picture No. III (1938) and Paul Klee in works such as Rising Star (1931) can be discerned.
The broad collection of Picasso works - from 1909 to 1969 - highlight his friendship with Ernst Beyeler and the importance of the artist's work in the twentieth century. These include: Femme (Epoque des Demoiselles d´Avignon, 1907) and one of his later pieces Jarrón de flores sobre una mesa (1969). Other of his works exhibited include El Mandolinista (1911), from the Cubist period, and the monumental Cabeza de mujer: Dora Maar (1941), a testimony to Picasso the sculptor, together with other pieces.
Jean Dubuffet is another artist to feature in the exhibition with four works from the Art Brut period from 1947 to 1956 and two pieces from the Hourloupe cycle between 1963 and 1974. Besides an extensive representation of Giacometti, one of the most predominant artists in the Collection, there are also works by Anselm Kiefer, for instance, Baum mit Palette (1978) and one piece by Georg Baselitz, Weg Vom Fenster (1982), which becomes part of the collection just before its inauguration.
A hundred works make up this extensive exhibition, presenting its forty years of collecting for the first time outside of Switzerland.