Surrealist | Modern | Post-War Art

Di Donna Galleries at Art Basel | Switzerland



Di Donna Galleries at Art Basel | Switzerland

15 June 2017 – 18 June 2017

Di Donna Galleries is pleased to announce its first participation in the Spring 2017 edition of Art Basel, Switzerland from June 15–18, Booth F7. The gallery will present an elegant selection of 20th-century works by European and American artists, including highlights by Jean Arp, Alexander Calder, Sonia Delaunay, Willem de Kooning, and Gerhard Richter, many of which are rare and have been in private collections for many years. The booth will reveal surprising yet eloquent technical and formal relationships among artists from various generations, as they investigated classical subjects such as the female form or landscape using innovative means. The artists on view often challenged conventional definitions of painting, drawing, and sculpture, as they sought to depict the human body or elements of the natural world in new and poetic ways.

Highlights include:

Jean Arp, Deux Têtes (1927-28): The earliest work in this presentation, this mixed-media painting features the silhouettes of two profiles “drawn” by a single cord laid down on canvas. The image therefore exists both as a dual portrait and as a unified element.  Di Donna will also show a rare plaster, Torse des Pyrénées (1959), a torso that twists at the waist and reaches upward, resulting in a graceful arrangement of peaks and valleys that evokes its namesake mountain range.

René Magritte, Le Sens propre V (1929): This painting is an excellent representation both of Magritte’s iconic style of trompe l’oeil painting, as well as the dynamic linguistic and artistic innovations spawned under the umbrella of Surrealism in the movement’s first decade. Magritte hand-painted a collage and a fragment of a wood-paneled wall, creating an illusion of space and texture that is anything but “literal,” as Magritte’s title incongruously suggests. In the gouache Le Domaine d’Arnheim (1962), Magritte further exploits the Surrealists’ interest in simultaneous realities by meticulously rendering a landscape that is both a looming mountain and a bird protecting its nest.  

Marcel Broodthaers, Huître malade d’une perle (1963): Broodthaers expanded the Surrealist practice of creating highly conceptual works that rely on disjunctions between the cultural symbolism behind his imagery, and the crude materials he used to make it. He frequently turned to quotidian objects or detritus from everyday life, such as egg shells, mussel shells, or even unsold copies of his own book of poems, which he once embedded in plaster to create his first art object. Huître malade d’une perle draws upon such precedents; what appears to be a large oyster shell is actually hand-molded plaster, into which the artist partially embedded plastic boxes resembling rows of precious pearls.

Yves Klein, Anthropométrie (ANT 49) (1960): A stunning example from a series of works that were created by imprinting the pigmented skin of a model’s torso onto paper, so that the work is at once a painting and a record of a performative gesture. Klein and Arp were mutually inspired to investigate expressions of weightlessness and the essence of the female form.

Willem de Kooning, Untitled (c. 1981): A large untitled drawing on vellum consisting of a full composition of interlocking anatomical referents that the artist made by tracing over passages of other drawings or paintings. It therefore exists as a new work as well as an index of a continual process de Kooning routinely utilized to generate new imagery.

Alexander Calder, Croissant rouge (c. 1951): A superb metal stabile that suggests a crescent moon and a small constellation of stars, using color and geometric shapes in a way that playfully mimics relationships between elements in nature.

Sonia Delaunay, Composition (1954): An oil painting that exemplifies the artist’s ongoing commitment to establishing rhythmic relationships between basic forms and unmodulated colors.

Gerhard Richter, Abstrakt Bilden (1989): An intriguing 1989 painting in which the artist manipulated the physical properties of oil paint by pulling a squeegee across the surface of a large, densely layered canvas. A veil of smoky blue-gray gives way to an underlayer of fiery orange and gold.

Ed Ruscha, Crown (1985): A quintessential example of Ruscha’s work, this large work on paper possesses an atmospheric quality. Ruscha’s application of dry white pigment results in a sense of illumination; the titular image appears to glow and float against a midnight blue background—a result of technique that also suggests the symbolic potential of an actual crown to denote absolute and transcendent power.

Di Donna Galleries’ booth is curated to emphasize the formal, material, and conceptual dialogue among works of art made across a broad chronological period and from various mediums. As in its exhibition program, Di Donna aims to offer viewers a refreshing perspective on art-historical developments throughout the 20th Century.


Press Contact: Sarah Goulet,, +1 303 918 0393.