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Continuously Contemporary

New works from the Emanuel Hoffmann Foundation

GEGENWART / 05.09.2020–10.01.2021 / Curators: Kunstmuseum Basel, Schaulager

In celebration of the fortieth anniversary of the Kunstmuseum Basel ǀ Gegenwart, which was founded in 1980, the museum presents a selection of new large-format works and ensembles from the collection of the Emanuel Hoffmann Foundation. The focus is on works requiring unusual spatial arrangements that have rarely or even never been seen at the Kunstmuseum Basel. The exhibition is divided into three chapters.

It opens with a presentation of ensembles by artists with longstanding ties to the Emanuel Hoffmann Foundation: three video installations by the Belgian David Claerbout, a set of painted drawings by the Australian artist Toba Khedoori, a group of sculptures by the German artist Katharina Fritsch, photographs by the Canadian Jeff Wall, and a series of paintings by Francis Alÿs, a native of Belgium who lives in Mexico.

What these works and ensembles have in common is the artists’ awareness that seemingly dependable realities and states of affairs are actually ephemeral. Perception is a selective process that is shaped by factors like the beholder’s personal standpoint and changeable state of mind as well as his or her social background and individual knowledge. A cursory glance is often deceiving, and first impressions can give way upon more extended contemplation to a different understanding.

In the second chapter, scheduled for February 2021, the presentation will be replaced by selected groups of works by artists including Klara Lidén, Monika Sosnowska, Fiona Tan, Paul Chan, Thomas Demand, Peter Fischli, Alexej Koschkarow, Steve McQueen, Jean-Frédéric Schnyder, and others.

Then, in mid-May 2021, the third chapter, Tacita Dean. Antigone, will bring the Swiss début of the newest and hitherto most complex work of the British artist Tacita Dean in the Emanuel Hoffmann Foundation’s collection. In another makeover of the presentation, we will also install a fresh selection of treasures from the collection, by Elizabeth Peyton, Steve McQueen, Anri Sala, and others.

Forty Years of Contemporary Art at the Kunstmuseum Basel | Gegenwart

The “Museum für Gegenwartskunst” (Museum of Contemporary Art) on St. Alban-Tal was built under the aegis of the Kunstmuseum and opened its doors to the people of Basel in February 1980. Its creation was made possible by magnanimous gifts from Maja Sacher-Stehlin, the Emanuel Hoffmann Foundation’s founder, her family, and the Foundation itself. It marked a watershed for the European museum scene: Basel was home to the first museum explicitly dedicated to contemporary art and the debates it sparked. Held in celebration of the anniversary, the exhibition Continuously Contemporary. New Works from the Emanuel Hoffmann Foundation offers a fresh reminder of the extraordinarily rich cultural assets that the Foundation generously shares with the Kunstmuseum and the public and demonstrates that the Kunstmuseum Basel | Gegenwart’s galleries still make it one of the finest venues for ambitious contemporary art.

The exhibition is made possible by the Laurenz Foundation, Basel, and the Fund for Artistic Activities at the Museum für Gegenwartskunst of the Emanuel Hoffmann Foundation and the Christoph Merian Foundation.