• Willem de Kooning

    Kunstmuseum Basel | Gegenwart
    St. Alban-Rheinweg 60
    September 17, 2005–January 22, 2006

    Curated by Bernhard Mendes Bürgi

    The ’60s and ’70s were not happy years for Willem de Kooning. At the height of his fame, the aging painter often disappeared for days at a time on drinking binges that would culminate in hospital stays. Even good days often began with a bottle of J&B. Was the “blubbery” style of those years a relative low point, a long prequel to the (now much better known) abstractions of the “dry” ’80s? Or do its slovenly, lascivious images of women and emulsified landscapes represent de Kooning’s true “late style,” before the onset of Alzheimer’s? With about forty major works made between 1960 and 1980, curator Bernhard Mendes Bürgi gives European audiences a chance to assess the artist’s most dissipated, least prolific decades.

  • Wolfgang Laib

    Fondation Beyeler
    Baselstrasse 101
    November 27, 2005–February 27, 2006

    Curated by Philippe Büttner and Ulf Küster

    The poet of milk stones and pollen squares, Wolfgang Laib is, at fifty-five, the youngest artist—and the first installation artist—to receive a solo exhibition at the Fondation Beyeler, a world-class collection of modern masterworks that became its own public museum in 1997. The Renzo Piano building, with its translucent white-glass roof, should be a beautiful setting for about thirty of Laib’s fragile, tactile installations made since the ’80s, including not only milk and pollen works but examples of his beeswax “houses” and ziggurat-shaped towers. Artists honored with special showings at the Beyeler tend to be dead masters—Monet, Picasso, Rothko—or living legends—Kelly, Johns. This inserts Laib, however gently, into a grand pantheon.