Modern Masters

7 June – 14 September 2024

Zurich, Bahnhofstrasse

Modern Masters’ is a showcase of selected masterpieces across painting and sculpture by gallery artists, estates and beyond. Spanning the early-20th to early-21st Centuries, the presentation includes the work of celebrated masters, including Hans Arp, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Max Beckmann, Louise Bourgeois, Alexander Calder, Barbara Chase-Riboud, Ferdinand Hodler, Agnes Martin, Henry Moore, Mark Rothko, Georges Vantongerloo and more.

Sculptural highlights include Louise Bourgeois’s ‘Three Horizontals’ (1998) in which three figures, materialized in patches of pink fabric sutured together, lay supine upon structures that resemble operating tables. Exemplary of the artist’s manipulation of the body, Bourgeois dismembers the figures, their resemblance to the human form fading away. Further sculptural works include Hans Arp’s biomorphic ‘Präadamitische Frucht / Fruit préadamite (Pre-Adamite Fruit)’ (1938/1962)—a rare example of his marble sculptures—and Alexander Calder’s ‘Snowflake Tree’ (1960). Combining Calder’s two signature innovations, the mobile and the stabile, the kinetic sculpture comprises weightless, moving elements—gliding and floating like snowflakes, in keeping with its title—branching out of a static, solid base. Barbara Chase-Riboud’s ‘Standing Black Woman of Venice IV, Praxilla (BABA)’ (1969-2020)—taking its name from Praxilla of Sicyon, a Greek lyric poet from the 5th Century BC—comes from a series that memorializes powerful or at times marginalized women in history. Made using modules created in 1967 for the artist’s floor work ‘Bathers’ (1969-72), the large-scale, abstract sculpture unites the historic and the contemporary.

In addition to impressive sculptural works, ‘Modern Masters’ presents historic paintings made in the early- to mid-20th Century, such as ‘Das Jungfraumassiv von Mürren aus (The Jungfrau Massif from Mürren)’ (1911) by Ferdinand Hodler. Having spent two weeks in Mürren, Switzerland, in July 1911, the artist applied his formal experimentations and unique palette to the alpine vista, producing a stylized view characterized by his distinctive rendering of clouds. The selection also includes Henry Moore’s work on paper ‘Reclining Figure’ (1933)— featuring one of his signature motifs, the recumbent body—Mark Rothko’s compelling ‘Composition’ (1959) and important works by Max Bill and Georges Vantongerloo. With approaches stemming from mathematics and modern scientific theories, Bill’s angular oil on canvas ‘Weisses Quadrat durch Elementärfarben ergänzt’ (1962) and Vantongerloo’s geometric painting ‘Fonction noir, rouge’ (1936) offer inquiries into how shape, color and form come together in space.

Later works by modern artists include ‘Untitled’ (1988) by Jean-Michel Basquiat. Painted in the final year of his life, this piece reflects the profound influence that music, culture and history had on his prolific practice. Centered around a crocodile head—drawing on art since prehistoric times, Basquiat’s Haitian ancestry and the clothing brand Lacoste—the composition also features repeated symbols and short poetic phrases that exemplify the artist’s idiosyncratic lexicon. Agnes Martin’s ‘Untitled #3’ (2002)—created only two years before her passing—is testament to her extensive exploration of abstraction and profound contributions to minimalism. Together, the works on view by leading artists, from figuration to abstraction, present touchstones of artistic development and progress within modern art.

‘Modern Masters’ is on view now through 14 September at Hauser & Wirth Zurich, Bahnhofstrasse. Please visit our location page to plan your visit.

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