During the Corona-Crisis, Swiss artist Arnold Böcklin’s symbolist painting “The Plague” (1898) became prominently displayed in the media as illustration of the pandemic. This work is currently on display at Kunstmuseum Basel, in an exhibition that’s titled “Encountering Böcklin” (Böcklin Begegnet).
The show is an excellent introduction to Arnold Böcklin’s oeuvre and his time. Configured in twelve groupings, works by Arnold Böcklin (1827-1901) are juxtaposed with those of his predecessors, contemporaries and unexpectedly like-minded artists, allowing key biographical, stylistic and thematic aspects of his oeuvre to emerge. This is the first of four videos in which curator Eva Reifert introduces us to these groupings of works.
In this video, Eva Reifert talks about three groupings:
PORTRAYING THE SELF, PORTRAYING ANOTHER: Arnold Böcklin, (Self-Portrait in the Studio, 1893), and Adolf von Hildebrand, (Portrait of the Painter, 1898).
REVISITING ANCIENT MYTHS I: Jean-François de Troy, (Diana and Actaeon, 1734); and Arnold Böcklin, (Diana’s Hunt, 1862).
REVISITING ANCIENT MYTHS II: Frank Buchser, (Odysseus and Calypso, 1872); and Arnold Böcklin, (Odysseus and Calypso, 1882).
Encountering Böcklin (Böcklin Begegnet) at Kunstmuseum Basel. Basel (Switzerland), June 15, 2020.
Alongside Hans Holbein the Younger, Arnold Böcklin (1827–1901) is one of the ‘patron saints’ of the Kunstmuseum Basel. The museum holds over 90 paintings and sculptures by the artist, making it the most important collection of his works in the world. In the late 19th century, Böcklin, who was born in Basel, achieved enormous fame in the German-speaking lands and is now seen as one of the key exponents of Symbolism.
Even during his lifetime, Böcklin was a controversial figure. Some saw him as an innovator, whilst others (such as the influential art critic, Julius Meier-Graefe) accused him of being a reactionary force, impeding progress in the arts.
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