Keen to take a city break that’s chock full of eye candy treats by some of the world’s greatest modern architects, designers, and artists? Go to Basel. I was blown away by all the fascinating stuff I got to behold during my few days there.
Home to more than 40 museums, an impressive array of iconic buildings and more – world class yet quaint Basel yields the sort of visual stimuli you’d more likely expect to see in cities with five times its population. Most of the sights I enjoyed viewing were within a pleasant (often riverside) stroll of each other, while the rest were all easily reached via clean, comfy and very reliable public transport. Here are some of the things I liked looking at the most while I there, a few of which I’d say would have been worth making the trip to see in and of themselves.
Whoa! Worth the trip alone, this Renzo Piano designed museum housing the collection of celebrated gallery owner Ernst Beyeler and wife Hildy is situated in the leafy outskirts village of Riehen and offers a crash course in who’s who and what’s what among the elites of 20th century art: Monet, Cézanne, loads of works by Picasso, etc etc. I crave a repeat visit to the room with all the Dubuffet works! And I wouldn’t mind another lunch at the museum’s Restaurant Berower Park, a casual dining eatery set in a historical residence with plenty of outdoor seating with views of the nearby countryside and large scales works by artist such as Calder.
On now at the foundation and running until 7 September 2014 is a frickin’ fantastic Gerhard Richter exhibition which for the first time ever explores “works conceived as series, cycles, or interior environments from all periods” of his career.
Fondation Beyeler is located at Baselstrasse 101, CH-4125, Riehen. For details about the museum go to fondationbeyeler.ch.
Just as awe inspiring (if a teensy bit more when considering the breadth of its collection) is Kunstmuseum Basel aka the Fine Art Museum. One of the most important assemblages of fine art on the planet, the museum is home to important works from the 1400s to the present day including the biggest collection of art by the Holbein family, significant pieces from the Renaissance and the 19th century, as well as lots of German Expressionism and American art since 1950, and an impression number of Cubist works from Picasso, Braque and Léger. I especially liked seeing the neon installations by Bruce Nauman, the relatively small piece by monumental sculptor Richar Serra, and the haunting oil paintings by Swiss symbolist Arnold Bocklin.
Kunstmuseuam Basel is located at St Alban-Graben 16, CH-4010. Visit online at kunstmuseumbasel.ch.
Opened just over ten years ago under commission of the Laurenz Foundation in a colossal exhibition and art storage facility with a snarling sliver of a stylized window crack running through it. Designed local architect heroes Herzog & de Meuron, Schaulager is an amazing place to view edgy contemporary art. It’s a killer place to behold inside and out even without the art on view.
On permanent display are two phenomenal installations: American artist Robert Gober’s Untitled which features a life size and open armed concrete cast of the Virgin Mary with a large metal drain pipe jutting through the middle of her gut; and Katharina Fritsch’s ginormous Rattenkonig, a nightmarishly looming and uniformly circled rat king that suggests feeling somewhat similar to having a vicious guard dog lunging and gnashing inches away from you at the end of its lead.
On now until 19 October 2014 is a delightfully WTF exhibition of Selected Works by Paul Chan that – if you’re something of a jaded culture junky like I am – is just the thing for smirks, giggles and heady contemplation.
Schaulager is located just outside Basel city centre at Ruchfeldstrasse 19, CH-4142, Münchenstein. Find out more at schaulager.org.
Contraption as fine art, always with a sense of humour and usually one that’s rather dark: the works of Swiss iron sculptor Jean Tingugely are fun to admire. To be honest, I had no idea who this Basler artist was before my visit. But now I’d consider myself to be well on my way to becoming a major fan thanks to this museum and its permanent exhibition of Tinguely’s animated mechanical sculptures.
On now is a beguiling temporary exhibition, I am not You by Czech artist Krištof Kintera that’s as quirky as it is creepy.
You’ll find Museum Tinguely on the north bank of the Rhein at Paul Sacher-Anlage 2, CH-4002. Go to tinguely.museum for more information.
Vitra Design Museum
The Vitra Design Museum is one of the world’s leading design museums in the field of design, presenting a changing programme of exhibitions and events on topics of design and architecture with guided tours of exhibitions and architectural tours of the Vitra Campus available. Come here for an excellent opportunity to get up close and personal with pieces, structures, samples, and ephemera by leading designers and architects such as Charles and Ray Eames, Frank Gehry, George Nelson, Isamu Noguchi and more more more!!! Most of the photos I took during my Basel city break were of this photogenic dreamland.
The Vitra Design Museum and is located a short distance outside of Basel in Weil am Rhein, Germany. It’s a cinch getting there and back by bus. Learn about Vitra at design-museum.de.
There is so much more: a lovely little paper museum set in a working medieval paper mill; a guided tour of the city’s architectural highlights (guide Rudolph Suter is brilliant!); a good bit of street art, loads of design centric boutiques and attractive spots for eating and drinking; and … well, I hope you get the point! There’s a lot to admire in Basel.
This just about concludes my Basel City Break miniseries. I’ll ‘officially’ wrap things up soon with a final post listing all the posts in this series. Merci vielmal!