Kunsthalle Basel marks 150th anniversary with the Regionale exhibition

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Kunsthalle Basel marks 150th anniversary with the Regionale exhibition
Regionale 23, We are so many here, Kunsthalle Basel, 2022. Exhibition view. Photo: Philipp Hänger / Kunsthalle Basel.



BASEL.- This year, the 150th anniversary of Kunsthalle Basel is the focus of the Regionale exhibition We are so many here. Casting a glance back at the history of its founding body, the Basler Kunst- verein (Basel art association), and its pre- decessors sheds light on sparkling commitment, courageous initiatives, and tireless efforts to create community, visibility, and networking among art and art lovers. When the foundation stone of Kunsthalle Basel was laid in 1869, the president of the association, Johann Jakob Im Hof, outlined the aims with the following words:

“To prepare a place for the fine arts to stimulate, promote, and spread interest in them in our city, as well as to cultivate rela- tionships among artists and friends of the arts.” In: Lukas Gloor, Thomas Kellein, Margit Suter eds., Die Geschichte des Basler Kunstvereins und der Kunsthalle Basel. 1839–1988. (Basel: Basler Kunstverein, 1989), 35.

In addition to meetings and exhibitions, socializing was cultivated with asparagus and Christmas dinners, and legendary costume parties were thrown. In the recorded memories, one such festivity was recalled as follows:

“I remember one merry evening to which we had invited a lot of prominent guests and for the first time ladies, too. There were, among others, people from the theater and the press and musicians and professors. We did our utmost to entertain our guests well and to gain honor for society. We had put together a fabulous program. Sandreuter pro- nounced himself a speed painter and conjured the funniest improvisations on the wall. Schnider let his sarcastic wit flow. Balmer, Bauer, and I performed a shadow play, for which, with much work, we had made hundreds of moving figures [...] of course, we also had a small orchestra. Mean- while, the album (Sandreuter had donated it) circulated among our guests. Everyone now had to draw his self- portrait in it, which most of them did with good humor and self-mockery.”

Quote from Emil Beuermann (1862–1957, artist and writer), in: Axel Christoph Gampp ed., Der Kunst und der Geselligkeit. Die drei Basler Künstler- gesellschaften 1812–1900. (Basel: Basler Künstler- gesellschaft, 2014), 99.




Certainly, any such art association was also marked by human foibles: bickering and struggling over values and the true concept of art; over finances; and with disputes between generations ending in resolutions and resignations—and renewals which have run like a thread through its history and are repeated up to today.

Continuing the tradition, this exhibition and the accompanying events will focus on the festive and the celebratory—a toast to convivi- ality, commonality, and friendship between artists and art lovers.

As the title We are so many here suggests, the exhibition is characterized by a polyphony of artists, artworks, and media, representing 58 positions. The selection is idiosyncratic and as heterogeneous as the six-member cura- torial team. In terms of content, the artworks cannot be assigned to a single theme; by their very nature, they are mostly site- and space- specific and selected with a view to potential festive activities and events. The common de- nominator is conviviality, springing from encounters both in and with the spaces—whether with dispute or harmony remains to be seen. To reinforce and establish this and foster critical engagement, the curators have reinstated the “Stammtisch,” or the regulars’ table, at the Kunst- halle Restaurant for discussions and exchanges with artists, guests, and anyone interested.

Finally, everything culminates in a costume ball, for which Kunsthalle Basel will be transformed into a stage and ballroom, mixing music, theater, and dance in a glittering setting.

Celebration and conviviality need a place to come together: We are so many here pays tribute to Kunsthalle Basel in its multiple possibilities. Extending and going beyond the exhibition spaces, other locations, including the Kunsthalle Restaurant, the Campari Bar, the Stadtkino Basel, the library, as well as the entrances, staircases, facades, and the garden, will be part and parcel of the choreography and thus integrated into the show.

Summary tour

First off, the selection of artists in Katarina Sylvan’s exhibition poster appears embedded in festive splendor or like a twinkling starry sky.

Likewise, walking in and around the building, thevisitor repeatedly encounters large format prints by Marion Ritzmann, whose geometric color compositions echo an accompanying melody that runs through the exhibition. For ex- ample, at the entrance to Kunsthalle Basel, where they naturally join the in-house posters. In various places, there are encounters with Markus Schwander’s sculptures and with Oliver- Selim Boualam’s works, the latter of which re- fer to the masks of Arnold Böcklin. In the Foyer, there is Doris Lasch’s lucid text work relating to and quoting from her recently published artist’s book on display in the bookshop.










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