Robert Breer. Retrospective at Museum Tinguely, Basel

Robert Breer is considered as one of the most groundbreaking and celebrated experimental filmmakers in history, a pioneer in avant-garde animation. The Museum Tinguely in Basel now shows the most comprehensive retrospective of this work to date. The solo exhibition presents the paintings, sculptures and films of the American artist, showing works from the 1950 to the present day. The exhibition was conceived in close cooperation with Robert Breer, who died in August 2011.

In this video, curator Andres Pardey (Vice Director, Museum Tinguely) talks about Robert Breers oeuvre and career, his artistic development, his relationship to Jean Tinguely, and the concept of the exhibition.

Robert Breer. Retrospective at Museum Tinguely, Basel / Switzerland. Press preview, October 25, 2011.

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Complete Video (17:25 Min.):

Robert Breer was born in Detroit in 1926. He is seen as a typical “Artist’s artist” who developed a highly original oeuvre. Breer was the son of an amateur 3D home-movie maker and chief engineer at the Chrysler Corporation. He initially studied engineering, but then switched to painting, attracted by the grid-based abstract works of Piet Mondrian.

In 1949 he moved to Paris, where he developed his own version of hard edge abstraction painting. Based on a deep interest in movement, he brought his paintings to live with experiments with animation, first with flipbooks, and finally with film. In his first film Form Phases (1952) he set the designs of these paintings into motion by morphing the forms and shifting the color. Later, he mixed moving and still images, representation and abstraction. In one of his best known films, Swiss Army Knife with Rats and Pigeons (1980) the functional form of the knife and its red color separate and dance around each other before reuniting.

Robert Breer’s High-Speed films are complemented by his Super-SloMo sculptures or Floats. In the 1960s he began to work on these sculptures that have simple, almost minimalist forms and move at speed that is almost imperceptible. They recreate the motion of his films in three dimensions.

The exhibition was mounted in collaboration with the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead (UK) where it ran from June to September 2011. A major publication and an event program at Museum Tinguely accompany the exhibition.

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