After having had a rather stressful week in Germany, I had a day off today and went to Basel (or Riehen, to be precise) to visit the current Gaugin exhibition at the Beyeler Foundation. Since it takes a bit more than two hours by train to get there, it is not a trip I would do with the little one although I am normally a strong advocate of taking children to museums, so I left early and truly enjoyed a day full of relaxing, reading, watching, dreaming, thinking, (inner) debating and slowing down, all by myself.
At the museum, I was first of all a bit shocked by the price of the ticket. The admission and the audio guide together costed as much as the train ticket (and I already took a deep breath when paying that one…). While I do understand that museums have high running costs and that these exhibitions need a certain budget, this level of admission is already pretty elitist. This impression was increased by nocticing a majority of very….mh, how shall I describe it…
elitist? wealthy? distinguished looking visitors. Men in black suites with red silk scarfs. Women with perfect hair and somehwat unobstrusive but expensive jewlery. Talking about the deeper concept of the exhibition, about the connections between colour and the strokes of the brush…And here and there a few tourists. Even a few small children. Which were suspiciously viewed when making a noise.
No, no, it wasn’t that bad. But I was somehow astounded to realize that I really can’t relate to this type of intellectualism anymore. I studied cultural sciences. I would say I have a fair knowledge of art history. I also studied interpretation. I always wanted to work as an interpreter. And I found the exhibition very interesting. But at some point during the last two years I changed in the way that I wouldn’t want to work in such an elitist environment anymore. For me, that’s not what art is about. For me, museums and exhibition should be lively and tell stories and, of course, children should feel comfortable. I don’t compare the different brush strokes. I prefer to look for the stories behind the paintings instead. Which was also the reason why I took the audio guide for children and not for adults. For some reason, audio guides for children tell much more exciting stories than the ones for adults. And this one was very well done, I have to say!
The exhibition itself was very good, but left me a bit melancholic – many of Gaugins paintings are supposed to show paradise-like impressions, but on most of them the people have a rather sad look so I guess it wasn’t paradise after all.
The second exhibition at the museums was by Peter Doig, a modern artist, which fitted extremly well as modern counterpiece of the Gaugin exhibition. Having never heard of him before (maybe my knowledge of art history is not as good as I thought) I was quite taken by his work!
After all these inner debates and intellectual input I went back to Basel to enjoy the sunshine and the city. The streets were still covered with confetti – a leftover of the carnival which will probably still be visible for the next month or two – and there was a real feeling of spring everywhere. How much I missed sitting on a bench in the sunshine without freezing!!
Coming back home was as great as spending a day on my own. How can it not be if you are greeted by a child that runs into your arms and eagerly pulls of your shoes…Now my batteries are recharged again so the best of all husbands can leave for a conference in France (oh là là!).