Art Basel 2024

On booth F10 at this year’s Art Basel, Galerie Haas will focus on abstraction in European art. Since Kandinsky’s famous essay “On the Spiritual in Art” in 1911, with which he gave art a new impetus, it is impossible to imagine Modernism without Abstraction. The origin of abstraction as we know it today lies in the increasing stylization of the visible world in the 20th century. In Adventure of Abstraction, Galerie Haas presents a selection of paintings, sculptures, and works on paper by Louise Nevelson, Joan Snyder, Francis Picabia, Hans Uhlmann, Ernst Wilhelm Nay, Kurt Schwitters, Antoni Tàpies, Reinhard Pods, Gotthard Graubner, Arnulf Rainer, Jan Schoonhoven and Victor Vasarely among others that illustrate the various forms of abstraction in the 20th century.

Louise Nevelson, as a pioneer already from the 1940s, made use of the (wooden) remains of modern industrial society. Roaming New York’s streets, she obsessively collected discards and the wooden remnants of urban society, which she sorted into abstract relief-like assemblages. By means of monochrome black coloring, the objects are combined into a unity by detaching them from both their social and historical origins. For Francis Picabia, as for Hans Uhlmann, the path to abstraction begins with Cubist inventions. In Ernst Wilhelm Nay’s rhythmic paintings of the 1950s and 1960s, bodies, freed from the pretense of figuration, are translated into space as sequences of colors and slices. The abstract compositions of Kurt Schwitters present themselves as an interplay of two-dimensional, geometric elements. In the 1950s, Informalism developed as a second phase from Abstraction, in which the gestural and the textural became essential. The work of Antoni Tàpies, whose haptic works made of ephemeral materials make clear the quality of space as supplier of energy and destroyer. Gotthard Graubner’s color bodies make color the subject of his work, as in Arnulf Rainer’s paintings, where color seems to be relentless. Jan Schoonhoven and Victor Vasarely chose a far less gestural path to abstraction: While Schoonhoven used light to make narrative and movement visible on stark white surfaces, Vasarely divided the visual world into geometric patterns and used optical illusions to dissolve them.

Gary Kuehn’s most recent work, Reflections and Projections, is presented on booth U46 at Art Unlimited and is a space-filling installation of 50 small-format works on paper connected by an invisible horizontal line along the walls. Although Kuehn uses a conceptual formal language, his installation is autobiographical and can be understood as a physically tangible diary in which Kuehn explores emotional and physical connections in a broader sense and (pictorial) space in a “stream of consciousness” manner. Reflections and Projections embodies what underlies the entire oeuvre of American artist Gary Kuehn: the dynamics of human relationships, pairs of opposites, and the material as metaphor. Born in 1939, Gary Kuehn became an outstanding representative of the post-minimalist era and radically shaped the concept of art in the 1960s. His work includes sculptures, objects, paintings, and installations. He has also created an extensive body of paintings, drawings, and action videos. Unlike Minimalist artists, he contrasts the elimination of all subjectivity with an abstraction of feeling in the geometric object. Since the 1960s, Kuehn has repeatedly explored questions of freedom and determination, free development of form and (social) restriction, always with the idea of breathing emotion into minimalism. Today, Kuehn’s work is more political than ever, considering that he has always had metaphorical dimensions in mind with his abstract works. Reflections and Projections visualizes our present time, a time of great political upheaval, shifting international alliances, and increasing left-right tensions.

Installation images

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