Results 1-2of 2 Reviews
New Delhi, India
June 25, 2009
Our Swiss pass was accepted here too, so having brandished it, we headed off into the first of the galleries. This area, as luck would have it, was hosting two special exhibitions: Wilfred Moher and Tracey Emin.
Tarun and I are incorrigibly old-fashioned and prefer art that (a) looks pleasing (Constable, Reynolds, da Vinci, Rembrandt, Vermeer, Corot, van Gogh, et al), and (b) we can understand without getting stressed. This means anything that needs reams of explanation doesn’t often score with us.
Moher’s exhibition, its huge canvases splashed and streaked with greys, browns and blacks, depressed us thoroughly and we sought refuge in Emin’s work—which was, on the surface, prettier, but even more horrifically depressing on closer inspection. The artist’s embroidered blankets, neon lights, photo-cum-painting-cum-whatnot combinations, arrays of plants, unmade beds and highly descriptive diaries lay bare Emin’s tumultuous past of childhood rape, alcoholism, abortion, mindless sex, nicotine addiction, etc and appeal to a lot of people, but we thought all of it highly overrated.
So it was with a sense of relief that we headed for the familiar and much-loved: the Old Masters, housed on the ground floor of the museum. The earliest paintings here are from the later medieval period: still lifes (okay, not very popular with us, since we find dead birds and obviously fake fruit or flowers tedious), portraits, allegories and the like. These are mainly by little-known artists and range from run-of-the-mill to ho hum.
But perseverance pays, and we finally arrived at a set of galleries peopled by our favourites. There are big names here: Monet, Rodin, Manet, Delacroix, van Gogh, Pissarro, Picasso, Juan Gris, Joan Miro, Matisse, etc—most of them superb. Among the works I liked were a striking nude by Rodin, a The Children of Advocate Meyer by Edvard Munch (a far cry from the unsettling harshness of the famous The Scream: this one’s a peaceful, sweet study of three siblings) and the stunning Ice on the River by Monet—shimmering, gloomy, and remarkable. There were some Dalis too, brightly coloured, with strong lines and distinctive curvy shapes; and a mesmerising Dead girls by Ernest Biéler, an exceptionally beautiful painting, all flowing lines and muted colours. Another set of works that the museum is very proud of (but which we didn’t particularly enjoy) is the Paul Klee collection, including Ad Parnassum, inspired by pointillism but not quite there, I thought.
Where the Kunstmuseum really bowled us over was with its collection of works by the two Swiss painters, Ferdinand Hodler and Albert Anker. Ferdinand Hodler, after whom Hodlerstrasse (on which the Kunstmuseum is situated) was Bernese, and his works display a very wide range of styles and subjects. We especially liked Le Lac de Thoune and Morning at Interlaken—both definitely impressionist landscapes—Hodler’s self-portraits, and the absolutely superb Joyful Woman. This one, a female figure standing, arms outstretched, her red gown flowing about her body, is all strong, fluid lines, sheer genius in its simplicity. In a very different style are Hodler’s Parallelism paintings, peopled by tall, slim figures that stand parallel to each other. One of the best examples of this at the museum is The Chosen One, a striking painting indeed.
But if I were to be asked to settle on one painter whose works at the Kunstmuseum I really enjoyed, it would have to be Albert Anker, the 19th century painter who is often accorded the status of Switzerland’s `national painter’. Anker’s canvases depict daily life: snapshots of everyday happenings such as a girl carrying a loaf of bread; a storyteller regaling a group of children while a woman works in the background and hens peck about; and a still life with a homely ceramic cup, a loaf of bread and a plateful of jacket potatoes. All of these, by the way, are descriptions of paintings at the Kunstmuseum. The Ankers are all unpretentious, peaceful, sweet paintings. So lovely, in fact, that I ended up going back to them again and again, until Tarun had to pull me to continue!
Verdict: good museum; in fact, very good. Whatever your taste in European art (I’m assuming there are some of you out there who don’t care for wishy-washy stuff like Anker!), you’re certainly likely to find something that appeals to you. And, since they host temporary exhibitions every now and then, you just might strike it lucky and find something exceptionally interesting while you’re visiting.
Entrance to the museum is CHF7 if you don’t have a Swiss pass. No photography is allowed inside the museum.
From journal Bears, Bears Everywhere
July 5, 2002
A Swiss-born painter and graphic artist whose personal, often gently humorous works are replete with allusions to dreams, music, and poetry, Paul Klee,(1879 - 1940), is difficult to classify. Primitive art, surrealism, cubism, and children`s art all seem blended into his small-scale, delicate paintings, watercolors, and drawings. Klee grew up in a musical family and was himself a violinist. After much hesitation he chose to study art, not music, and he attended the Munich Academy in 1900. There his teacher was the popular symbolist and society painter Franz von STUCK. Klee later toured Italy (1901-02), responding enthusiastically to Early Christian and Byzantine art. Klee`s early works are mostly etchings and pen-and-ink drawings. These combine satirical, grotesque, and surreal elements and reveal the influence of Francisco de Goya and James Ensor, both of whom Klee admired. Two of his best-known etchings, dating from 1903, are Virgin in a Tree and Two Men Meet, Each Believing the Other to Be of Higher Rank. Such peculiar, evocative titles are characteristic of Klee and give his works an added dimension of meaning.
From journal Beautiful Bern