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PRINT May 2001

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Realist Camp

One of Basel’s favorite sons, Arnold Böcklin (1827–1901) is up for a second survey in his hometown. The first, in 1977, marked the 150th anniversary of his birth. “Arnold Böcklin: A Retrospective” (Kunstmuseum Basel, May 5–Aug. 8), curated by Katharina Schmidt, will commemorate the 100th anniversary of his death. As a student in Düsseldorf, Böcklin learned to record what was before his eyes, to give trees and family members the same no-nonsense treatment, but he soon grew dissatisfied with the mere reality embraced by so many artists of his generation and began to populate his landscapes with aliens from a remote Mediterranean world. Like his German contemporaries Anselm Feuerbach and Hans von Marées, Böcklin enjoyed long sojourns in Italy, where his imagination was fired with visions of antiquity, as if on a sunny excursion to Capri he might stumble upon no less an adversary than Polyphemus.

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