Goya’s Christ and witches, Warhol’s Mao and Marilyn, Frida Kahlo’s colourful exotic plants and animals – discover the best exhibitions in Switzerland in 2021 and 2022.

SAINTS, WITCHES AND DEMONS – FRANCISCO DE GOYA

The Fondation Beyeler, Switzerland’s most influential museum of modern art, presents one of the most significant exhibitions ever devoted to Francisco de Goya, one of modern art’s major trailblazers. For the first time, rarely displayed paintings from Spanish private collections are shown alongside key works from distinguished European and American museums and private collections. The exhibition brings together around 70 paintings and more than 100 masterful drawings and prints. The exhibition is organised by the Fondation Beyeler in collaboration with the Museo Nacional del Prado in Madrid.


Francisco de Goya, Doña Antonia Zárate y Aguirre, approx. 1805 © National Gallery of Ireland NGI. 4539.
Francisco de Goya, Vuelo de brujas, 1797–1798 © Photographic Archive. Museo Nacional del Prado. Madrid.

Francisco de Goya y Lucientes (1746–1828), one of the last great court painters and a forerunner of the figure of the modern artist, had a great impact on Pablo Picasso (1881-1973). Goya’s Desastres de la guerra (Disasters of War), a series of 82 prints created between 1810 and 1820, served as a key inspiration for Picasso’s anti-war paintings like Massacre in Korea (1951) and Mother With Dead Child (1937).

The Goya exhibition at the Fondation Beyeler in Basel spans a period ranging from Late Rococo to Romanticism. Arranged chronologically, it features large-scale stately paintings as well as sketchbook pages, focussing on Goya’s late work. The exhibition presents both the established court painter and the inventor of enigmatic and disturbing pictorial worlds, his religious and his secular images, his depictions of Christ and of witches, portraits and history paintings, still lifes and genre scenes.

Francisco de Goya, Doña María del Pilar Teresa Cayetana de Silva Álvarez de Toledo, XIII duquesa de Alba, 1795 © Fundación Casa de Alba, Palacio de Liria, Madrid.
Francisco de Goya, El Aquelarre, 1797/98 © Fundación Lázaro Galdiano, Madrid.

Highlights of the exhibition include the portrait of the Duchess of Alba (1795) and the iconic Clothed Maja (La maja vestida, 1800–1807), as well as the rarely displayed Maja and Celestina on a Balcony and Majas on a Balcony (1808–1812), the latter two on loan from European private collections.

Goya depicts events from everyday life in Spain around 1800 – socially, politically and religiously troubled times. Recurring settings include markets and bullrings, prisons and ecclesiastical institutions, lunatic asylums and the courts of the Inquisition. Depictions of witches are another key motif, used by Goya to expose the superstition of his time.

Buy your tickets and find more infos about the Goya exhibition in Basel on the website of the Fondation Beyeler. The exhibition runs from 10 October 2021 to 23 January 2022.

Cover photo: Francisco de Goya, La maja vestida, 1800-1807 © Photographic Archive. Museo Nacional del Prado. Madrid

FRIDA KAHLO – POWERFUL PORTRAITS WITH LIGHT AND SOUND EFFECT

The first museum for immersive art in Switzerland has opened with a world premiere: Viva Frida Kahlo Immersive Experience. It is the first time that the life and work of the iconic Mexican artist is presented in an immersive format outside of Mexico.

Kahlo’s expressive paintings, with their accessible symbolism and colourful, exotic plants and animals, as well as her powerful self-portraits, are the perfect templates for an immersive presentation with video projections and light and sound effects. The new Lichthalle Maag uses high performance projectors to project images onto walls, columns, ceilings and floors up to 10 metres tall and 34 metres wide – a breathtaking 360-degree experience.

The colourful world of Frida Kahlo. Photos: Courtesy of Lichthalle Maag, Zurich.

Atelier des Lumières in Paris and now various competitors worldwide provide exhibition space for illuminated art. This involves the paintings of great artists such as Van Gogh, Monet, Chagall, Dalí and Gaudí, being digitally animated, acoustically accompanied and projected onto ten metre high walls as well as the ceiling and floor. Visitors are able to move freely in the room and immerse themselves in the works of art in a completely new way.

The Frida Kahlo exhibiton in Zurich runs from 29 September 2021 to 2 January 2022. Buy your tickets and find more info about the exhibition on the website of Lichthalle Maag.

ANDY WARHOL – MAO, MARILYN AND MICK

The Andy Warhol – Pop Art Identities exhibition in Basel brings together more than 130 artworks and original films. It aims at re-reading Warhol’s artistic journey from two specific points: his desire to transform his weaknesses into strengths and his aspiration to be seen as a witness to his “here and now”, also through what could be defined as his “liquid identity”.

Warhol (1928-1987) stopped drawing and painting, devising personal artistic techniques capable of guaranteeing uniqueness in seriality, effectively depriving the artwork of its “authenticity”. One of Warhol’s many contradictions that will make him famous, defined by most as an “earthly genius”, a predominant figure of the Pop Art movement and one of the most influential artists of the twentieth century.

The exhibition runs from 13 October 2021 to 30 January 2022 at Messe Basel (tickets and info).

Mao, 1972, © Private collection Stefano Pirrone Padova

ITALIAN IMMIGRATION IN SWITZERLAND

Losanna, Svizzera. 150 years of Italian immigration to Lausanne

In the exhibition Losanna, Svizzera. 150 years of Italian immigration to Lausanne, the Musée Historique Lausanne is exploring 150 years of the history of the Italian community in the Lausanne region. Its members were faced with xenophobia from some of the local community and endured very difficult living conditions as a result of their status as seasonal workers, but they nevertheless market their « host » country with their italiniatà – food, music, cinema, social life, sports, leisure activities, political activism and more.

The exhibition runs from 18 August 2021 to 9 January 2022 in Lausanne.

(left) Tino Petrelli, Africo (Calabria), March 1948, © Archivio Storico Intesa Sanpaolo / Archivio Publifoto; (right) Musée Historique de Lausanne

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