William Kentridge

I have been to the William Kentridge exhibition at the Kunstmuseum twice today: once because I made the mistake of thinking that it could be visited casually; a second time because I found its scale and content overwhelming, so full of the politics of content, drawing, music, tough imagery, it needs time to ingest. I know everyone else already knows this.

Upstairs is a display devoted, very appropriately, to Erasmus (he’s buried in the Cathedral):-

The top floor has a performance, More Sweetly Play the Dance, which is overwhelming.


Basel Minster

The ferry took me to the Minster: with carving in red sandstone.

The church was reconstructed after the previous Romanesque church had been destroyed by an earthquake in 1356. Its architect was Johnannes von Gmünd, also responsible for Freiburg Minster, the towers being added in the fifteenth century, more gothic:-

Beautiful carving in the north portal:-

In the west door:-

And a high gothic – or is it flamboyant gothic ? – pulpit:-


River boats

It was hard to resist the childish pleasure of crossing the Rhine on one of the river boats which plies its way back and forth from below the Cathedral to the opposite bank – surprisingly fast, as it turns out, in spite of being unmotorised, relying only on the strength of the current:-


Old Basel (1)

By dint of staying in the University district, I have got to know a bit of Basel which I didn’t know before.

The Spalenvorstadt, full of old shops and well preserved façades, which leads down into the old town:-

Back up from the Marketplace:-

Past the old Kunstgewerbemuseum:-

There are good details:-

The Petersplatz, alongside the botanical garden, is, not surprisingly, very green:-

With more good details on the houses:-


Early Picasso

I took a break from the Art Fair in order to see The Young Picasso: Blue and Rose Periods at the Fondation Beyeler, which brilliantly illuminates Picasso’s development as an artist from 1900 when he first visits Paris with his friend Carles Casagemas through 1901, when Casegemas commits suicide in a Paris café and his work is first shown in June by Ambroise Vollard, 1902 when he goes back to Barcelona, 1903 when he paints La Vie, 1904 when he meets Fernande Olivier and Guillaume Apollinaire, 1905 when he meets the Steins, to 1906, when he meets Matisse for the first time and Vollard buys everything in the studio.

There are some amazing loans from private and, particularly, American public collections.

I don’t ever remember seeing La Vie, painted in Barcelona in May 1903, from Cleveland:-

Or the Head of a Harlequin (1905) from Detroit:-

The Acrobat and Young Harlequin (1905) comes from a private collection:-

The Two Brothers (1906) belongs to Basel:-

He was still only 25.


Frank Auerbach

In amongst the melee of Art Basel, I came across a beautiful, small Auerbach on Bernard Jacobson’s stand. It has one of Bernard’s charmingly idiosyncratic labels in which he writes, ‘Sadly I have cooled towards his work in recent years, actually I much prefer the work of his great friend Leon Kossoff’. This is a new form of reverse salesmanship:-