"Moonbird and Spider", the title of this presentation of the Beyeler Collection, refers to the large-scale sculpture Moonbird (1966) by Joan Miró and to SPIDER IV (1996), the monumental hanging sculpture of a spider by Louise Bourgeois, which has only recently entered the Beyeler Collection on permanent loan from a private collection. The Surrealist Miró and the Surrealist-influenced Bourgeois knew each other personally. Both artists intensively explored the seeming antithesis between abstraction and figuration. This aspect is the leitmotif, as it were, running through the new presentation of the Beyeler Collection.
The exhibition opens with an homage to representations of women in the Beyeler Collection. It brings together a broad spectrum of female portraits from different epochs across the genre. Thus Paul Cézanne’s masterly painting of his wife Hortense Fiquet, Madame Cézanne à la chaise jaune (1888), is joined by Pablo Picasso’s Cubist Femme en vert (1944). Both women have their hands folded reflectively in their lap. Is this shared pose just a coincidence? Or was Picasso inspired by Cézanne’s work? The answer remains a matter of speculation. On the opposite wall, the women in Marlene Dumas’ Broken White (2006) and Thomas Schütte’s bronze sculpture Frauenkopf (2006) are both sleeping. Resplendent above all these female figures is Louise Bourgeois’ SPIDER IV. In the oeuvre of the American artist, the spider carries positive connotations as a symbol of maternal protection.
The presentation also includes works by Peter Doig, Max Ernst, Paul Gauguin, Alberto Giacometti, Claude Monet, Piet Mondrian, Barnett Newman, Neo Rauch and Mark Rothko.