Baloise regularly presents exclusive works from its own collection in monographic and thematic exhibitions in the Art Forum, which is open to the public. Discussions with artists, guided tours for employees and interested external groups round off these art promotion activities.
Promoting talent has a long tradition at the Baloise Group. For many years now, it has been offering an entry into a sustainable career. This promotional idea also characterises Baloise's commitment to art - through acquisitions for its own collection and, since 1999, with the Baloise Art Prize, which is awarded every year to two young, up-and-coming talents.
The two prizes, each worth CHF 30,000, are awarded in the Statements Sector at Art Basel in Basel by a jury of international experts. In addition, Baloise acquires groups of works by the prizewinners and donates these works of art to two major European museums, currently the Museum für Gegenwart, Berlin and the MUDAM, Musée d'Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean, Luxembourg.
The art sponsorship commitment includes prize money, purchases of works, support for the Statements Sector Art Statements and museum exhibitions of the prizewinners with a total annual support sum of around CHF 250,000. Baloise's long-standing commitment to supporting young artists at Art Basel has attracted considerable international attention.
The timeline shows all winners and their works. The list of prize winners is long. Many of the prizewinners can now count themselves among the most prominent figures on the international art scene.
For over 20 years, Baloise and Art Basel have maintained a partnership that makes this platform for the promotion of young artists possible. Art Basel can celebrate its 50th anniversary this year: Art Basel was founded in 1970 by gallery owners from Basel and today organises the most important art fairs for modern and contemporary art with fairs in Basel, Miami Beach and Hong Kong. Each fair is shaped by the host city and region and is therefore unique. This is also reflected in the list of participating galleries, the exhibited works and the supporting programme, which is drawn up for each edition in collaboration with local institutions. Through new initiatives, such as Art Basel Cities, for which Art Basel collaborates with selected partner cities on individual cultural programs, Art Basel's commitment now extends beyond the organization of art fairs.
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Thomas Schütte opens the new Art Forum
Baloise is constructing three new buildings on the site between Aeschengraben, Parkweg and Nauenstrasse in Basel. The buildings will shape the cityscape and reflect Baloise's commitment to the city. Baloise Park will be an open working and meeting zone for Baloise employees, third-party tenants and the general public. A public square is being created where the Hilton used to stand.
The eight-storey building designed by Basel architects Diener & Diener will be the new corporate headquarters of the Baloise Group. A special effect of the concrete and glass façade are the eight-metre high window panes, which are rounded off towards the square. Behind the over-high window fronts, there are two storeys each. The Baloise art collection played a central role in the development of the new corporate headquarters. On the ground floor of the Baloise Group Head Office, the new Art Forum presents temporary exhibitions of artists whose works are represented in the Baloise Collection.
Baloise is delighted to open the prominent exhibition space at the new site with the German sculptor and draughtsman Thomas Schütte.
Födinger is a sculptor whose site-specific sculptures do not try to hide their production process. His spatial structures, mostly made of simple building materials, visualize the fundamental forces at work in the production and stabilization of three-dimensional bodies. Statics and movement, carrying and loads, diagonal and horizontal, mass and emptiness are the tension-filled poles of his sculptures, which are situated between architecture and sculpture.
In the work he conceived for his exhibition 'Struttin' (Struttin) at the Kunstforum Baloise, Födinger remains true to his site-specific approach. In addition to several photographic works that vary the exhibition theme, a newly created sculpture establishes a relationship to the renovation work at the Basel headquarters and the formal language of the entrance hall. For his powerful work, Födinger uses simple building materials such as steel girders, metal grating, plaster, and here too he creates a paradoxical, tension-filled spatial structure.
The French artist Mathieu Kleyebe Abonnenc (born 1977), who was awarded the Baloise Art Prize at Art Basel 2015, created a series of large-format colour photographs for his exhibition at the Kunstforum Baloise at the end of last year. The series was created in French Guyana, an overseas department on the north-east coast of South America, where the artist spent his childhood. The title of the series - Vieux-Wacapou - refers to a place on the Maroni River, which was the destination of Abonnc's last year's journey inland. Already at the beginning of the 20th century, immigrants from the English-speaking Santa Lucia and the neighbouring francophone Antilles islands had settled in this place surrounded by jungle. Most of the settlers were descendants of people from Africa, who had done slave labour on the Antilles since the 17th century. Over the decades, Wacapou developed into a prosperous town that made its living from gold panning. In the mid-1980s, the artist's mother decided to buy the house of Joseph Bernes, a former money launderer, in this hamlet. The wooden house, surrounded by a small vegetable garden, was to be the only property Abonnec's mother ever owned. However, a post-colonial civil war that broke out in neighbouring Surinam in the summer of 1986 thwarted her plan to live temporarily with her family in Wacapou. It now proved to be dangerous to stay in this border town. More than thirty years elapsed between the war in Surinam and Abonnc's decision to travel to Wacapou. The photo series Vieux-Wacapou documents the artist's search for the place he knew as a child. Today the remains of the abandoned settlement lie buried under a dense layer of vegetation.
Abonnenc therefore had to proceed like an archaeologist to find the jungle
to wring his secrets from him. His photographs of the settlement remains
of Wacapou hold a rich and complex amalgam of European
colonial history, contemporary history and family history. At the same time
Abonnenc face up to the history of the house in its engagement with
his mother questions that go beyond the immediate cause.
He says, "The questions I deal with
prove to be productive: Who owns this land? From whom
did they get it? Where is their house? These three narrative strands determine
the reading of the places I want to go to try
to give pictorial form to the fragile memory of the house."
(M.K.Abonnenc, Maraudeur, 2017).
Since 1999, the Baloise Group has awarded the Baloise Art Prize to two young artists. The prize, which is endowed with 30,000 Swiss francs each, is awarded annually at Art Basel by an international jury. In addition, Baloise acquires works of art by both prizewinners and donates them to two major European museums. In 2013, the Baloise Art Prize was awarded to German artist Jenni Tischer (born 1979) and South African artist Kemang Wa Lehulere (born 1984).
In its report on the works of Wa Lehulere, who is now one of the most important representatives of the younger generation of artists in South Africa, the jury emphasises the following: "In his works, Kemang Wa Lehulere deals with issues of collective memory and the historical search for traces in South Africa. The question of uncovering, writing down, but at the same time erasing text and image is the focus of his interest. The result is wall-filling drawings, installations, performances and photographs in which he combines the trauma and myths of South Africa's past with contemporary social issues. His works are to be understood as archives that show the process of forgetting and at the same time enable new and ambiguous narratives in the manner of collages.
In a conversation with the author, Wa Lehulere describes his multifaceted artistic practice as follows: "To incorporate text into my work offered me the opportunity to bundle different thought processes into a flow of energy. I developed a genuine interest in writing and also in fictional literature and short stories. Then I started to think about how I could integrate these works into different media I worked with. For example, I began writing performance scripts and documenting performances in text form without capturing them visually - purely through a written account of the experience. (...) The figures I design usually do not bear the traits of a particular gender or ethnicity, so they become a collective. I try to resist identity traits, but I am also very careful in my statements on such subjects, as I do not want to get involved in identity politics."
The works on paper exhibited at Kunstforum Baloise are strongly influenced by Wa Lehuler's experiences in the performative arts.
His ink drawings are both tension-filled movement notations and diary-like storyboards.
Berlin-based artist Susanne Kriemann has created heliogravures of plants and herbs for her exhibition at the Kunstforum Baloise. These are depictions that combine an artistic and a scientific approach. Field research led the artist to the region around Schlema (Erzgebirge), where the GDR mined the highly radioactive mineral pitchblende (uraninite) from 1946 to 1991 and thus contributed significantly to the nuclear armament of the USSR. In a large-scale renaturation programme, the landscape is to be restored by 2045.
Based on the phenomenon of the invisibility of radioactivity, Kriemann photographed herbs and flowers growing on the site, thus documenting a section of the landscape at a specific point in time of its renaturation process. These photographs form the basis for the heliogravures, a photographic printing process used especially in the late 19th century. The elaborate intaglio printing process enables a very fine gradation of colour values and represents a peculiar combination of handcrafted printing technique and photographic reproduction process. In Kriemann's work, this combination gives rise to images of enchanted places from a transfigured past, although the photographs used as printing templates were taken in the present day. Kriemann heightens the ambivalence of her image construction by inking the printing plates with the uranium-containing pigments of the herbs and plants depicted in the individual images. Kriemann's "Flowers of Evil" (title of the volume of poetry by Charles Baudelaire, first published in 1857) thus refers to the ambivalent relationship between man and nature.
Luke Fowler (born 1978) is a filmmaker, photographic artist and musician who lives and works in Glasgow. In his film work he explores the conventions and boundaries of biographical and documentary genres. Fowler works preferably with material from film and sound archives. These finds form the basis for portraits of fascinating, often dazzling personalities from alternative culture, such as the Scottish psychiatrist R. D. Laing and the English composer Cornelius Cardew. Against the background of these remarks, it is not surprising that Fowler's film oeuvre has repeatedly been related to British Free Cinema of the 1950s.
Behind the piece of art
Seeing a work from the collection through the eyes of the artists. Baloise pursues this idea with video portraits, which are constantly being expanded. The portraits are intended to provide an opportunity to view works from the collection from a different angle.