Fondation Beyeler, Basel
May 22 – August 21, 2011
Baselstrasse 101, 4125 Riehen, Switzerland
+41 61 645 97 00

This year the Fondation Beyeler is devoting its large summer exhibition to the art of Constantin Brancusi (1876-1957) and Richard Serra (b. 1939), bringing together a pioneer of modern sculpture and the most significant sculptor of the contemporary era. Brancusi, born in Romania, moved to Paris in 1904 and spent the rest of his life there. With his forms reduced to essentials, he laid the groundwork for abstract sculpture. The American artist Serra creates minimalist steel sculptures that redefine the range of sculptural effects by drawing the viewer directly into the work. Our exhibition focuses thematically on the appearance and presence of plastic form in space.

The key aspects of Brancusi’s oeuvre will be illuminated by a selection of about 35 works, arranged in concise groups according to theme. Renowned pieces will be on view, including different versions of the monolithic The Kiss, the poetic Children’s Heads and Sleeping Muses, the famous Bird in Space, and pathbreaking works such as Princesse X, Négresse blanche, and the iconic Endless Column. The formal variations on a small number of motifs and experiments with various materials and surface effects will reflect Brancusi’s incessant search for an aesthetic ideal. Marble sculptures and bronzes will be supplemented by figures in wood, cast cement, and plaster. The sculpture groups will be arranged with ample space around them to enable viewers to sense their presence in space in absolute terms.
Based on ten exemplary sculptures by Serra and a recent series of large-format works on paper, the issue of the essence and potentials of sculpture will be trenchantly addressed. The selection of works encompasses both Serra’s early work in rubber and lead, such as the Belts and Lead Props, and his characteristic steel sculptures,