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For Your Eyes Only

A private collection between Mannerism and Surrealism

HAUPTBAU / 20.09.2014–04.01.2015 / Curator: Andreas Beyer

From September 20, 2014 to January 4, 2015, the Kunstmuseum Basel is exhibiting a selection of more than one hundred works from the private collection of Richard and Ulla Dreyfus-Best.

Over the years, works of art from the private collection of Richard and Ulla Dreyfus-Best in Basel have been seen in exhibitions around the world, but until now they have yet to be seen by the general public as an ensemble. With the exhibition For Your Eyes Only, uniquely and for the first time, the public will be privileged to see how these works combine and speak to one another.

A selection of more than one hundred paintings, sculptures, drawings, natural curios, and artefacts reveals the special world of this collection, memorable in terms of its ambition and singularity and manifesting a contemporary reference to issues about the influential power of art through the ages. At a time when “crossovers”—of media, techniques, and genres—shape perceptions of art in general, the Dreyfus-Best Collection is both prescient and exemplary.

In assembling their collection, the collectors have held to strict principles that have excluded random elements of chance. They not only made of originality and quality essential criteria, they also required that all works specifically reference “artifice” (in the strict sense of the word). The outcome is a truly distinct and contemporary “cabinet of curiosities.” The collection juxtaposes secular works of art with erotic and religious art from the Middle Ages to the present; Renaissance and Baroque master drawings share space with the arcane worlds of Surrealist painting; eccentric visions of the 18th century encounter the fantastic artifices of Mannerism; Symbolism and Pop Art meet on common ground. The thread that ties all these works is an artificiality that continually probes and experiments limits.

Artists featured (selection): Hans Baldung Grien, Hans Bellmer, Arnold Böcklin, Victor Brauner, Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Angelo Caroselli, Giorgio de Chirico, Francesco Clemente, Salvador Dalí, Monsù Desiderio, Gustave Doré, Max Ernst, Frans Floris, Johann Heinrich Füssli, Maarten van Heemskerck, Jan van Kessel, Alfred Kubin, René Magritte, Man Ray, Gustave Moreau, Richard Oelze, Bartholomäus Spranger, Yves Tanguy, Andy Warhol.

A collaboration with the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice

The exhibition is supported by:

Swisslos Basel-Landschaft
L. + Th. La Roche-Stiftung
Stiftung für das Kunstmuseum Basel