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Along with Hans Holbein the Younger, Arnold Böcklin is one of the household saints of the Kunstmuseum Basel, which houses the most important collection of his works with over 90 paintings and sculptures. The Basel-born artist achieved enormous fame in the German-speaking world at the end of the 19th century and is one of the most important representatives of Symbolism.
Even during his lifetime Böcklin was controversial. For some he was an innovator, others (such as the influential art critic Julius Meier-Graefe) accused him of having held back progress in art.
In twelve constellations in which Böcklin encounters works by predecessors, contemporaries, and unsuspected kindred spirits, central biographical, stylistic, and thematic aspects of his oeuvre crystallize. The mood barometer fluctuates between satire, atmospheric melancholy and solemn seriousness.
Where Böcklin remains elusive, where the will to set out and the adherence to tradition are irreconcilably opposed in his work, he reveals himself to be a child of the contradiction-rich Fin de Siècle period.
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