Gauguin, van Gogh, Cézanne, Monet, Chagall, Picasso—some of the finest works by the greatest artists of the 19th and 20th centuries were collected by two Swiss art patrons: Rudolf Staechelin (1881- 1940) and Karl Im Obersteg (1883-1969). They were successful businessmen and friends, and contemporaries of American collector Duncan Phillips (1886-1966), founder of The Phillips Collection in Washington, DC. Gauguin to Picasso: Masterworks from Switzerland juxtaposes these two great Swiss Collections on loan to the Kunstmuseum Basel with works in The Phillips Collection, exploring philosophies of collecting and the artworks themselves.
This beautifully illustrated book opens with an introduction that sets the Swiss collectors in their cultural context and explores their contribution to their community. Two detailed essays examine the Staechelin and Im Obersteg collections individually, tracing the history of each and featuring rare archival images. The approaches of the Swiss collectors are then compared with that of Phillips in an essay that looks at their aims and vision, their patronage of living artists, the impact of the political climate and market forces on their collecting, and their social commitment. A stunning plate section groups works in the Staechelin and Im Obersteg collections together by artist with short introductions to each group. A listing of works in the exhibition provides a detailed guide to the paintings in each of the Swiss collections.
Dorothy Kosinski is director of The Phillips Collection.
Renée Maurer is assistant curator at The Phillips Collection.
Henriette Mentha is curator of the Im Obersteg Collection, Im Obersteg Foundation, Kunstmuseum Basel.
Hans-Joachim Müller is art critic for Die Welt and Welt am Sonntag, Berlin.