The ART XXI Gallery opened its doors in 2007, right behind the Hotel des Bergues in Geneva. The Director, Mr. Gregory Guiter, is an experienced expert in the field of Modern painting as well as Russian painting from the early twentieth century, and claims his ambition by daring to participate in the creation of a cultural pole of attraction on the right bank.
The gallery is the exclusive representative for Switzerland of the prestigious Valsuani Foundry which acquired its reputation over the past century for its mastery of the lost wax technique of casting and also for having worked for the greatest sculptors: Auguste Rodin (1840-1917), Auguste Renoir (1841-1919), Paul Gauguin (1848-1903), François Pompon (1855-1933), Ossip Zadkine (1890-1967), Henri Matisse (1896-1954), Salvador Dalí (1904-1989), Arman (1928-2005), etc.
ART XXI’s sculpture collection includes masterpieces by Rodin, among which the The Kiss and Eternal Spring feature volumes which are remarkably enhanced by black patinas, as intended by the sculptor himself.
The Thinker, shown here in the original size, watches over the gallery just as he would have looked over The Gates of Hell. Let us indeed recall that this sculpture was designed by Rodin to be set at the top of the front door of a Museum of Decorative Arts ordered by the Beaux-Arts in 1880 . As a fervent admirer of Dante, Rodin got his inspiration from the first part of The Divine Comedy to create this door on which he worked until the end of his life and which he never saw completed. The Thinker in fact represents the poet Dante meditating his work.
Sculptures by Dalí (1904-1989) also complete this ensemble. The presence of two remarkable artist's proofs should be emphasized: The Rhinoceros dressed in lace and The Minotaur. The latter is 2,36 m. tall (including the base) with an Etruscan black sheen and a beautiful lobster gilt with gold leaf hanging from his belly; he perfectly embodies Dalí’s megalomania. Let’s also note the presence of the graceful Space rhinoceros carrying a stunning gilt sea urchin pyramid on his back.
On the other hand, the sculptures by Modigliani (1884-1920), bring a touch of African inspiration to the place, while those of Benatov (born 1942) are giving it a more contemporary character. Outstanding works of art also adorn the walls since a whole collection of Russian avant-garde paintings by Alexandra Exter (1884-1949) and Natalia Goncharova (1881-1962) has been put together.
The two oils on canvas entitled Picking Apples (1908-1909) are of particular importance as they actually are preparatory works for the large polyptych in the Saint Petersburg’s Russian Museum. The scene is depicted in a Primitivist style and dates from when Goncharova was exploring agricultural themes. A canvas featuring the same subject reached the price of £ 4’400’000, on the 18th June 2007 at Christie's in London, which reflects the major interest of these paintings.
Futuristic vision of a city (1913-1914) is probably the most remarkable painting by Exter in this exhibition. It belongs to the time when the artist closely interacted with a group of Italian Futurists with whom she even exhibited.
The visitor can finally admire the sharp and vivid colors of the four gouaches on paper on display here at the gallery. Let us underline that in 1990, also at Christie's in London , a gouache on paper with a very similar composition had already reached the price of £ 506’000 and since then the prices of Alexandra Exter have gone up considerably just as those of Russian painting of the same period. The ART XXI gallery therefore brings together some real masterpieces from which no art lover who respects himself shall deprive his eye...
1 The Thinker may be seen in his original context at the Kunsthaus in Zurich as the museum owns one of the eight existing editions of the bronze doors across the world. They measure 6,80 meters high and weigh 8 tons.
2 A Selection of Russian Avant-Garde Works, formerly of The Property Kurt Benedikt, London, Thursday April 5, 1990.