KUSYA0257_basel

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44 1/8 x 57 3/8 inches (112.1 x 145.7 cm)
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Acrylic on canvas
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INFINITY-NETS [JSAL]

Year 
2015
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INFINITY-NETS [JSAL], 2015
Acrylic on canvas
44 1 /8 × 57 3 /8 inches (112.1 × 145.7 cm)

Yayoi Kusama's (b. 1929) work has transcended two of the most important art movements of the second half of the twentieth century: pop and minimalism. Her highly influential career spans paintings, performances, room-size presentations, outdoor sculptural installations, literary works, films, fashion, design, and interventions within existing architectural structures, which allude at once to microscopic and macroscopic universes.

Kusama began her large-scale Infinity Net paintings in the 1950s, when she moved to the United States from her native Japan. First produced at a time when Abstract Expressionism was still the dominant style, these canvases, according to Mignon Nixon, set out to "replace the expressive gesture with an exhaustive one, pushing painting to its limits of spatial extent and 'monotony;' and to obliterate the self, reconceiving contemporary painting from a subjective statement of individual consciousness to 'nothingness' on an epic scale."1

Kusama went on to apply the obsessive, hallucinatory qualities of the Infinity Nets to her three-dimensional work, creating optical environments that merge concepts such as flatness and depth, presence and absence. Meanwhile, she has continuously returned to the theme in her paintings, using a variety of formats and colors. The red net pattern in the present work spreads out across a white background, creating from a distance an optical combination of the two colors. While from afar, the overall composition appears flat and uniformly repetitive, closer observation of the work's surface reveals the materiality of the paint and the individual nature of the repeating elements.

1 Mignon Nixon, "Infinity Politics," in Frances Morris, ed., Yayoi Kusama. Exh. cat. (London: Tate Publishing, 2012), p. 180.

KOOJE0652_basel

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100 x 56 7/8 x 62 3/8 inches (254 x 144.5 x 158.3 cm)
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Mirror-polished stainless steel with transparent color coating
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Venus

Year 
2016-Present
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Venus, 2016-present
Mirror-polished stainless steel with transparent color coating
100 × 56 7 /8 × 62 3 /8 inches (254 × 144.5 × 158.3 cm) 

American artist Jeff Koons (b. 1955) is widely regarded for his bold paintings and monumental sculptures that hold a mirror up to contemporary culture. Using the photorealistic and commercial aesthetic familiar from an earlier generation of pop artists, Koons has generated his own universally recognizable style that frequently comprises smooth, highly reflective surfaces and bright, saturated colors. Koons typically works in series, tapping into subject matter from popular culture and art history that is frequently reminiscent of childhood in order to, as he notes, empower the viewer toward achieving a state of personal transcendence.

The present work belongs to Koons's Porcelain series of sculptures, begun in 2016. Inspired by the objects in nature from lawn ornaments to the outdoor sculptures in the gardens of the Château de Versailles, where the artist had a 2008-2009 solo exhibition, these large-scale works are modeled after porcelain objets d'art that were manufactured in Europe from the eighteenth through early twentieth centuries. Prized for both their durability and delicacy, and revered for their "exotic" Eastern origins, the subject matter of these porcelain collectibles was often derived either directly or indirectly from well-known sculptures or paintings (the objects themselves were frequently replicated in later iterations as well).

Playing on this initial act of appropriation, the works in this series are organized around three themes: Mythic Nudes (such as the present work), Animals, and Lovers. By executing them in highly reflective mirror-polished stainless steel and recontextualizing them within the bucolic setting of the garden, Koons shifts the emphasis of the figurines to a more universal register: though viewers are looking at traditional subject matter, they become involved in a metaphysical dialogue based on time and what it means to be human. Thanks to technological advances, Koons is for the first time able to faithfully reproduce the highly nuanced gradations of color and detailed patterning of the originals, further underscoring a transformative sense of replication.

POLSI0182_basel

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122 1/4 x 106 1/4 inches (310.5 x 269.9 cm)
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Acrylic, dispersion, and chalk on felt
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IK MACH DASS SCHON JE$S (I'll take care of it, Je$s)

Year 
1972
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IK MACH DASS SCHON JE$S (I'll take care of it, Je$s), 1972
Acrylic, dispersion, and chalk on felt
122 1 /4 × 106 1 /4 inches (310.5 × 269.9 cm) 

German artist Sigmar Polke (1941-2010) is widely considered to be one of the most influential painters of the postwar era. Characterized by an experimental approach to a wide variety of styles, media, and subject matter, Polke's work engages unconventional and diverse materials and techniques, as well as the use of ironic and humorous imagery, as strategies of social, political, and aesthetic critique.

In the early 1960s, Polke and German artists Manfred Kuttner, Konrad Lueg, and Gerhard Richter founded the Capitalist Realist movement, which addressed the context of postwar German capitalist culture through a uniquely humorous brand of pop art that depicted readily available consumer and petit-bourgeois imagery. As A.S. Byatt has written, Polke "began in the 1960s as a member of the group of German 'Capitalist Realists' opposed both to East German Socialist Realism and to American Pop's glossy celebration of modern materials. Polke's early works show a fascination, which is both deadpan and bizarrely exotic, with the objects and textures found in petit-bourgeois [culture]…not primarily to sneer, but to show nakedly those emotions to which they aspired…He knows that we live, like no previous culture, in a swarm of insistent man-made visual images—and he is more interested than repelled."1

The present painting depicts three male Hollywood archetypes—a cowboy, an armed militiaman, and a third figure in uniform—amidst indeterminate, casually applied swathes of paint. This large-scale work is executed on a ground of commercially available brown felt fabric, in lieu of traditional canvas. Here, Polke not only humorously pokes fun at Hollywood's glamorization of violence and the ubiquity of American pop culture, but also melds figuration and abstraction in his signature, elusive style. This work relates closely to two similarly large-scale works on fabric from 1972: Mao (The Museum of Modern Art, New York) and Alice im Wunderland; together, the three works are among the most iconic paintings of the 1970s by the artist, and herald the transition between his Capitalist Realist-inspired work and the utterly unconventional, layered canvases that would define his career in the subsequent decades. While these three paintings were originally created on traditional canvas stretchers, they were often hung by the artist in a free-hanging banner or curtain-like format, suspended by wooden poles. These works were included together in their banner format in one of Polke's first major retrospectives, at the Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, in 1976, and in Polke's first US solo exhibition, held at the Holly Solomon Gallery in New York in 1982. Later, Polke had Alice im Wunderland and IK MACH DASS SCHON JE$S re-stretched over traditional canvas stretchers.

1 A.S. Byatt, "Polke Dots," Tate Magazine 7 (September/October 2003), accessed March 15, 2016 [tate.org.uk context-comment/articles/polke-dots].

SERRI0335_basel

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47 x 31 1/4 inches (119.4 x 79.4 cm)
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Etching ink and silica on handmade paper
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Orchard Street #25

Year 
2018
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Orchard Street #25, 2018
Etching ink and silica on handmade paper
51 1 /2 × 35 7 /8 inches (130.8 × 91.1 cm)

Since 1971, Serra has employed black paintstick (compressed oil paint, wax, and pigment) to produce drawings that resolutely defy any metaphorical or emotive associations, yet which manifest the notions of time, materiality, and process that characterize his work.

The present work originates from a series of drawings that were first presented in Serra's 2017 exhibition at the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam, the Netherlands. Describing the process by which these works are made, Neil Cox notes, "Serra spreads his material, which might include one or more types of black [paintstick, etching ink, and silica] onto a table. A sheet of robust handmade paper from suppliers in Japan and India is then laid on top of the pigments and, with a steel block [and the weight of his own body] Serra applies pressure to the sheet in a structure—or better, a vector—that is not preestablished but is always, once grounded by that first stroke, pursued as consistently as possible."1

1 Neil Cox, "The Shape of Feeling," in Richard Serra: Drawings 2015-2017. Exh. cat. (New York: Gagosian; Göttingen: Steidl, 2017), pp. 12-13.

SERRI0291_basel

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Two (2) blocks, each: 60 x 60 x 60 inches (152.4 x 152.4 x 152.4 cm)
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Forged steel
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Into and Across

Year 
2017
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Into and Across, 2017
Forged steel
Two blocks, each: 60 × 60 × 60 inches (152.4 × 152.4 × 152.4 cm)

Richard Serra (b. 1938) first began using forged steel in 1977, while working with a steel factory in Germany on the fabrication of a large-scale sculpture made for documenta 6. Serra has continued to use forged steel in numerous sculptures in different configurations and formats over the course of his career, creating works that employ forged blocks or rounds that are often installed in different relationships to one another. Into and Across, 2017, comprises two identically scaled, forged steel blocks placed in relation to each other in the exhibition space: one directly in a corner of the space, and the other at an angle, or across the adjacent corner.

JUDDO0024_basel

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15 1/2 x 93 x 78 inches (39.4 x 236.2 x 198.2 cm)
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Light cadmium red enamel on galvanized iron
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Untitled

Year 
1964
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Untitled, 1964
Light cadmium red enamel on galvanized iron
15 1 /2 × 93 × 78 inches (39.4 × 236.2 × 198.2 cm)

The work of Donald Judd (1928-1994), one of the most significant American artists of the postwar period, has come to define what has been referred to as minimalist art—a label to which the artist strongly objected. The unaffected, straightforward quality of Judd's work demonstrates his strong interest in color, form, material, and space. With the intention of creating work that could assume a direct material and physical presence without recourse to grand philosophical statements, Judd eschewed the classical ideals of representational sculpture to create a rigorous visual vocabulary that sought clear and definite objects as its primary mode of articulation.

The present work is a series of wall-mounted cubes that are connected by an open-ended, slender red aluminum tube. Judd first utilized this form in To Susan Buckwalter (1964; DSS 56)—an important transitional work within his oeuvre.1 As Marianne Stockebrand explains, "The four cubes are aligned at intervals of approximately one quarter their length, creating compressed spaces between them like ravines. These spaces clarify the work's depth and emphasize a pull from front to back as well as the alternation of enclosed and open volumes."2 Untitled thus explores the primary preoccupations of Judd's body of work—such as the relationships between surface and volume, and between interior and exterior space—demonstrating the artist's visionary approach to industrial material as well as his considered attitude toward proportion and installation.

1 The three examples of DSS 56 are in the collections of Judd Foundation (permanently installed in Marfa, Texas), the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the Addison Gallery of American Art, Andover, Massachusetts.
2 Marianne Stockebrand, "Catalogue," in Nicholas Serota, ed., Donald Judd. Exh. cat. (London: Tate Publishing, 2004), p. 183.

FLADA0202_basel

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8 ft. (244 cm) high
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cool white fluorescent light
Additional 

Edition of 5

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"monument" for V. Tatlin

Year 
1964
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"monument" for V. Tatlin, 1964
cool white fluorescent light
8 ft. (244 cm) high
Edition of 5

From 1963, when he conceived the diagonal of May 25, 1963 (to Constantin Brancusi), a single gold, fluorescent lamp installed diagonally on a wall, until his death in 1996, Dan Flavin produced a singularly consistent and prodigious body of work that utilized commercially available fluorescent lamps to create installations (or "situations," as he preferred to call them) of light and color. Through these light constructions, Flavin was able to establish and redefine space.

Flavin's "monuments" for V. Tatlin, executed between 1964 and 1990, form the most sustained series of works by the artist. These works, of which there exist a total of 50 different simple configurations of primarily cool white fluorescent light, were dedicated by Flavin to the Russian Constructivist Vladimir Tatlin. Like other artists in the 1960s, Flavin appreciated the Russian Constructivists for their quest to express revolutionary social and political attitudes in a language of pure abstraction, which, particularly in Tatlin's case, emphasized the use of real materials (tin, wood, iron, glass, plaster) in three-dimensional space.

On the "monuments," Flavin has remarked: "My concern for the thought of Russian artist-designer, Vladimir Tatlin (1885-1953), was prompted by the man's frustrated, insistent attitude to attempt to combine artistry and engineering. The pseudo-monuments, structural designs for clear but temporary cool white fluorescent lighting, were to honor the artist ironically." 1

The earliest works in this series were conceived between 1964 and 1968, shortly after Flavin created his diagonal of May 25, 1963, the first work in which the artist exclusively employed fluorescent lamps and fixtures. During this early period, Flavin was to discover the variability of this new medium, working with fluorescent lamps of differing commercially available colors and sizes and playing with different possible configurations.

In their investigation of variations of a simple set of fixed sculptural elements, the "monuments" comprise a quintessential example of the ideas of minimal and conceptual art. In this series, Flavin designed numerous related variations of white fluorescent lights, made up of combinations of eight-, six-, four-, and two-foot tubes. The "monuments" thus embody what the artist himself has described as his goal of working on "a sequence of implicit decisions to combine traditions of painting and sculpture in architecture with acts of electric light defining space." 2

Another edition of the present work is in the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

1 Dan Flavin, "Some artist's remark…," in Monuments for V. Tatlin from Dan Flavin, 1964-1982. Exh. cat. (Chicago: Donald Young Gallery, for Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, in collaboration with Leo Castelli Gallery, New York, 1989), n.p.; reprinted in Michael Govan and Tiffany Bell, Dan Flavin: The Complete Lights 1961-1966. Exh. cat. (New York: Dia Art Foundation, in association with Yale University Press, 2004), p. 112.
2 Dan Flavin, "'…in daylight or cool white.' an autobiographical sketch," first published in Artforum 4, no. 4 (December 1965), pp. 20-24; reprinted in ibid., p. 192

JUDDO0254_basel

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30 x 141 x 30 inches (76.2 x 358.1 x 76.2 cm)
Materials 
Red lacquer on aluminum and galvanized iron
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Untitled

Year 
1980
Basel Additional Info 

Untitled, 1980
Red lacquer on aluminum and galvanized iron
30 × 141 × 30 inches (76.2 × 358.1 × 76.2 cm)

The work of Donald Judd (1928-1994), one of the most significant American artists of the postwar period, has come to define what has been referred to as minimalist art—a label to which the artist strongly objected. The unaffected, straightforward quality of Judd's work demonstrates his strong interest in color, form, material, and space. With the intention of creating work that could assume a direct material and physical presence without recourse to grand philosophical statements, Judd eschewed the classical ideals of representational sculpture to create a rigorous visual vocabulary that sought clear and definite objects as its primary mode of articulation.

The present work is a series of wall-mounted cubes that are connected by an open-ended, slender red aluminum tube. Judd first utilized this form in To Susan Buckwalter (1964; DSS 56)—an important transitional work within his oeuvre.1 As Marianne Stockebrand explains, "The four cubes are aligned at intervals of approximately one quarter their length, creating compressed spaces between them like ravines. These spaces clarify the work's depth and emphasize a pull from front to back as well as the alternation of enclosed and open volumes."2 Untitled thus explores the primary preoccupations of Judd's body of work—such as the relationships between surface and volume, and between interior and exterior space—demonstrating the artist's visionary approach to industrial material as well as his considered attitude toward proportion and installation.

1 The three examples of DSS 56 are in the collections of Judd Foundation (permanently installed in Marfa, Texas), the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the Addison Gallery of American Art, Andover, Massachusetts.
2 Marianne Stockebrand, "Catalogue," in Nicholas Serota, ed., Donald Judd. Exh. cat. (London: Tate Publishing, 2004), p. 183.

REIAD2122_basel

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30 x 30 inches (76.2 x 76.2 cm)
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Oil on canvas
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Abstract Painting, Red

Year 
1953
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Abstract Painting, Red, 1953
Oil on canvas
30 × 30 inches (76.2 × 76.2 cm) 

Ad Reinhardt (1913-1967) is among the most significant American artists of the twentieth century. His singular career bridges the history of geometric abstraction with minimal and conceptual practices and continues to resonate today. From his early paintings of the 1940s and early 1950s, which are associated with New York School Abstract Expressionism, to the subtly chromatic "black" canvases that would preoccupy him from 1954 until his death, Reinhardt's paintings, prolific writings, and published cartoons encourage the viewer's active, perceptual engagement in the act of looking at and experiencing art. As he declared, "Art is art. Everything else is everything else."1

Following a prolific decade working in a sweeping array of styles, around 1950 Reinhardt began drastically paring down his compositions. Arriving at a reduced color palette of black, blue, and red (as in the present work), he explored the perceptual possibilities of each of these colors in separate series of canvases. Referred to as "monochromes" by the artist and his contemporaries, the artist's red paintings dynamically explore the perceptual play between flatness and depth, recession and projection, through nuanced, contrasting tonal variations of a single color. Made in 1953, the same year that he settled on the cruciform as the principal structure for organizing his surfaces, the present work rewards close and sustained acts of looking, presenting Reinhardt not only as a pioneer in the consideration of the optical and perceptual possibilities of painting, but also as a masterful and engaging colorist. Here, the square canvas is overlaid with a single trisection, or cross, rendered in subtle tonal variations that are difficult to differentiate and only reveal themselves after focused observation.

In 1965, he staged three concurrent exhibitions of his black, blue, and red canvases at three galleries in New York: black at Betty Parsons Gallery, blue at the Stable Gallery, and red at Graham Gallery. For these shows, Reinhardt rethought the presentation of these works; having originally exhibited the paintings together in the early and mid-1950s, here Reinhardt starkly delineated each into separate shows, increasing the intense effect of the colors by creating monochromatic installations that allowed the subtle differences in tone across and within canvases to be discerned.

1 Ad Reinhardt, "25 Lines of Word on Art: Statement," in Barbara Rose, ed., Art as Art: The Selected Writings of Ad Reinhardt (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1975), p. 51. Originally published in It Is (New York), Spring 1958

MITJO0004_basel

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79 1/4 x 71 1/8 inches (201.3 x 180.7 cm)
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Oil on canvas
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Untitled

Year 
1958
Basel Additional Info 

Untitled, 1958
Oil on canvas
79 1 /4 × 71 1 /8 inches (201.3 × 180.7 cm)

Joan Mitchell (1925-1992) established a singular visual vocabulary over the course of her more than four-decade career. While rooted in the conventions of abstraction, Mitchell's inventive reinterpretation of the traditional figure-ground relationship and synesthetic use of color set her apart from her peers, resulting in intuitively constructed and emotionally charged compositions that alternately conjure individuals, observations, places, and points in time. Her prodigious oeuvre encompasses not only the large-scale abstract canvases for which she is best known, but also smaller paintings, drawings, and prints

Mitchell arrived in 1949 in New York, where she was an active participant in the downtown arts scene. She began splitting her time between Paris and New York in 1955, before moving permanently to France in 1959. Exemplary of the paintings of this period, the present work synthesizes the influences of the contemporaries she encountered in New York, including Willem de Kooning and Jackson Pollock, while also pointing—with its distinct palette of turquoises, ochres, deep purples, and greens—toward a more European tradition of landscape painting. Untitled, 1958, ultimately retains a sense of composition and control absent from the work of the other abstract painters around Mitchell, embodying a distinctive style and approach to painting that was uniquely her own.

Already evident in this early painting is what Linda Nochlin calls "a very specific battle between containment and chaos…[indicative of a] poignant visual searching." She elaborates, "In Mitchell's work…meaning and emotional intensity are produced structurally, as it were, by a whole series of oppositions: dense versus transparent strokes; gridded structure versus more chaotic, ad hoc construction; weight on the bottom of the canvas versus weight at the top; light versus dark; choppy versus continuous brush strokes; harmonious and clashing juxtapositions of hue—all are potent signs of meaning and feeling. It is this structural freedom and control, this complexity of vision that accounts for the fact that…Mitchell explored a vast range of possibilities in her work."1

David Zwirner recently announced its exclusive worldwide representation of the Joan Mitchell Foundation. The gallery is planning a solo exhibition of Mitchell's work for Spring 2019 in New York.

1 Linda Nochlin, "Joan Mitchell: A Rage to Paint," in Jane Livingston, ed., The Paintings of Joan Mitchell. Exh. cat. (New York: Whitney Museum of American Art, 2002), pp. 55, 58.
 

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