In the 1950s, enlarging the collection of modernist works and branching out into contemporary art emerged as a central objective of the Kunstmuseum’s collection-building program. A donation from the Schweizerische National-Versicherungs-Gesellschaft, a major insurer, enabled the museum to buy four works by exponents of Abstract Expressionism for the collection in one fell swoop. This acquisition of contemporary American art put the Kunstmuseum Basel on the map as one of the leading progressive art museums of the time.
The presentation at the Neubau takes the legendary 1959 purchase as its point of departure to illuminate foci of our collection of art of the second half of the twentieth century. Iconic works by the Abstract Expressionists and the Minimalists are contextualized with more rarely seen treasures and new acquisitions. Arranged in loosely chronological order, the exhibition in eight rooms features artists with similar interests in materials, creative techniques, or themes.
Jan J. Schoonhoven