Swiss Collections Journey to the United States for Once-In-A-Lifetime Exhibition

Swiss Collections Journey to the United States for Once-In-A-Lifetime Exhibition
Yareah Magazine

The Phillips Collection is the only American venue for this exhibition, which includes Paul Gauguin’s NAFEA faa ipoipo (When Will You Marry?) (1892)

Washington, DC—With great enthusiasm and excitement, The Phillips Collection announces its plans for a special exhibition of the Staechelin and Im Obersteg collections, on view at the museum in fall 2015. Gauguin to Picasso: Masterworks from Switzerland, The Staechelin & Im Obersteg Collections pays tribute to two pioneering supporters of the arts, Rudolf Staechelin (1881–1946) and Karl Im Obersteg (1883–1969), both from Basel, who championed the work of Impressionist, Post-Impressionist, and School of Paris artists. This exhibition will be on view from October 10, 2015–January 10, 2016.
The Phillips will exhibit more than 60 celebrated paintings—masterpieces created during the mid-19th and 20th centuries by 22 world-famous artists—including Vincent van Gogh’s The Garden of Daubigny (1890), Pablo Picasso’s double-sided canvas Woman at the Theater / The Absinthe Drinker (1901), and Marc Chagall’s three monumental Rabbi portraits from 1914 Jew in Black and White, Jew in Green, and Jew in Red.
The exhibition also includes Paul Gauguin’s NAFEA faa ipoipo (When Will You Marry?) (1892), a major painting from the artist’s first Tahitian stay that made headlines earlier this year, as reported by The New York Times, due to its sale by the Rudolph Staechelin Family Trust. The Phillips has the privilege of featuring this impressive masterwork from the Rudolph Staechelin Collection before the painting takes on new ownership at the end of the exhibition.
“I am thrilled by the opportunity to bring such important and spectacular works to Washington—pieces that don’t normally travel,” says Dorothy Kosinski, Director of the Phillips and exhibition co-curator. “The exhibition shows the perspicacity of these two very important 20th-century patrons and supporters of modernism, and dovetails nicely with the history of collectors in this country, including our own founder, Duncan Phillips. As a Swiss citizen and longtime resident of Basel who had the privilege to accomplish exhibition projects there, I understand fully the importance of these collections and how they reflect the extraordinary cultural vitality of a city I love so much.”
The exhibition provides a platform to distinguish collecting philosophies and situate them within the history and reception of Modern art. Although they shared a passion for powerful and expressive color found in French painting, Staechelin and Im Obersteg took varied approaches in their collecting, as an examination of their key acquisitions reveals. While Staechelin worked exclusively with dealers to assemble a valuable selection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings in a very short time, Im Obersteg purchased important examples from the School of Paris throughout his lifetime, guided by his friendship with artists. Like his Swiss contemporaries, Duncan Phillips shared an enthusiasm for the work of many of the same artists represented in the Staechelin and Im Obersteg collections, and he used his instinct, knowledge, and extensive contacts with dealers and artists to acquire modern masterpieces for his museum. All three patrons were inspired by the art of their time, supporting modern art and purchasing works they liked even if it meant going against popular taste. The 61 works brought together in this exhibition facilitate conversations between internationally important collections formed before, during, and after World War I. Examples by Cézanne, Kandinsky, Manet, Modigliani, Monet, Renoir, and others will find their counterparts in the galleries of The Phillips Collection. Additionally, dialogues will be introduced by artists new to the Phillips, notably the Swiss Modernists Cuno Amiet and Ferdinand Hodler, as well as the unusually rich group of works by Russian Expressionist Alexej von Jawlensky.
The presentation of Gauguin to Picasso: Masterworks from Switzerland, The Staechelin & Im Obersteg Collections at the Phillips marks the first occasion for these collections to be exhibited together in the United States. The exhibition is co-organized by the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, in Madrid, where loans from the Staechelin and Im Obersteg collections are currently on view.
The Phillips Collection is one of the world’s most distinguished collections of Impressionist and Modern American and European art. Stressing the continuity between art of the past and present, it offers a strikingly original and experimental approach to modern art by combining works of different nationalities and periods in displays that change frequently. Artists represented in the collection include Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Vincent van Gogh, Edgar Degas, Henri Matisse, Pierre Bonnard, Paul Cézanne, Pablo Picasso, Honoré Daumier, Georgia O’Keeffe, Mark Rothko, Jacob Lawrence, and Richard Diebenkorn, among others. The Phillips Collection, America’s first museum of modern art, has an active collecting program and regularly organizes acclaimed special exhibitions, many of which travel internationally. The Intersections series features projects by contemporary artists, responding to art and spaces in the museum. The Phillips also produces award-winning education programs for K–12 teachers and students, as well as for adults. The museum’s Center for the Study of Modern Art explores new ways of thinking about art and the nature of creativity, through artist visits and lectures, and provides a forum for scholars through courses, postdoctoral fellowships, and internships. Since 1941, the museum has hosted Sunday Concerts in its wood-paneled Music Room. The Phillips Collection is a private, non-government museum, supported primarily by donations.
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