The forest and nature reserve Reinacher Heide at Forum Würth Arlesheim

Forum Würth Arlesheim and the exhibition 'Forest Fascination. Trees and Woods in Paintings and Sculptures'. Photo: TES

Numerous artists have been trying for centuries to surpass nature’s beauty. However, nature is the greatest artist, and humans cannot reproduce the original in all its splendour. Artists can, however, depict or interpret nature differently. This can be based on aesthetic, political, social, or historical motifs.

Italian masters introduced the first (fictitious) landscapes in the 14th century, and Dutch and Flemish masters followed with polders, forests, meadows, rivers, and, later, even fictitious mountain landscapes. German and English artists gave a place to romantic impressions of nature, Jean-Jacques Rousseau introduced nature into literature, French impressionists had their own perspective, and the 20th and 21st centuries inspired modern artists in their own way.

Norbert Tadeusz (1940-2011), Aaper Wald II, 2006. Collection Würth, Inv. 15275

Roots of a tree along the Birs

And yet nature is still unrivalled. Forum Würth in Arlesheim, however, has an original concept for combining the art of nature with the art of people. The exhibition Forest Fascination. Trees and Woods in Paintings and Sculptures (Waldeslust. Bäume und Wald in Bildern und Skulpturen) prominently features nature among works by around 60 artists from the 19th century to the present day. The works range from painting, sculpture, drawing, installation art, photography, film, video, and other artistic applications.

As usual, the works come from the Würth Collection and have already been shown at other Würth locations. However, the special thing about travelling exhibitions from the Würth Collection is that each location has its own perspective, as is the case in Arlesheim.

View of the exhibition

The forest and the tree are often a theme in Switzerland. The motifs range from concern for the forest, the role of the tree in society, the city and nature, respect for the tree as a creation of nature, the forest as a source of inspiration, tranquillity and as an authentic habitat, the forest as a place of stories, legends and fairy tales, to the forest as a place for travelling and hiking.

Robert Longo (* 1953), without title (Fair mount Forest), 2011, Collection Würth, Inv. 15015. © 2024, ProLitteris, Zurich. Photo: Robert Longo Studio

The tree and the forest are addressed in this exhibition through six themes: The tree from the root system to the treetop, the forest as a place of retreat, the forest as a counter-world to civilisation, the forest as a projection space for longings and fears, travelling and hiking through forests and concern for the condition of forests and trees.

View of the exhibition

A separate room on the Walderlebnis (forest experience) shows the forest’s most relevant aspects and characteristics in the four seasons. The film in this room shows the atmosphere and cycles of Swiss forests from the valley to the mountains.

The exhibition gives nature its rightful place. Nature is never far away in Switzerland, not even in the Basel Agglomeration. The Reinacher Heide along the Birs (canton of Basel-Landschaft) is a protected nature reserve located just a hundred metres from Forum Würth Arlesheim and is part of the exhibition.

The Birs and nature reserve the Reinacher Heide

Visitors can take an audio walk and a walk guided by a forester (Swiss Ranger). The exhibition also offers an extensive programme of activities for young and old.

(Source and further information: Forum Würth in Arlesheim)

The Erlebniswelt

Ingenious Women in Basel

Lavinia Fontana (1552-1614), Self-Portrait , 1577. Collection:  Accademia Nazionale di San Luca, Roma. Photo Credit: Mauro Coen

The exposition (Ingenious Women: Women Artists and Their Companions) shows works by eighteen women artists, contextualising them for the first time with those of their fathers, brothers, husbands, and teachers.

Women artists portrayed royalty and nobility, owned workshops, and schooled students, but mostly fell into oblivion.

Northern and southern Europe in the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries was home to more women painters, teachers, and graphic artists than we often realise nowadays. At the same time, it was deemed socially undesirable and would be pursued only under exceptional circumstances.

However, if aided by family members, teachers, and other pioneers, the prescriptive roles could be breached. Hence, typically, women artists stemmed from artistic families, where they could acquire the necessary skills outside of official studies.

The exposition brings together around 100 portraits, history paintings, still lifes, drawings, and graphic arts from the Renaissance, Baroque, and Classicist epochs and puts them into the perspective and context of their time.

Augusto Giacometti in Aarau and Chur

Augusto Giacometti (1877 - 1947), Self Portrait 1941 Bündner Kunstmuseum Chur. Foto:TES

The exhibition Freiheit | Auftrag (Freedom, Commission) focuses on a multi-faceted artistic personality whose oeuvre counts among the highest expressions of art in the first half of the 20th century.

The exhibition travels along the “Freedom” and “Commission” issues to explore the relationship between free creation and commissioned art. It reveals the tension within which Augusto Giacometti (1877-1947) spent his productive life as an artist.

Currently, the Bündner Kunstmuseum Chur is showing an exposition dedicated to the artist’s works on paper.

(See also a painting of Augusto Giacometti in the Flowers for Art in the Aargauer Kunsthaus)