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    Pablo Picasso & René Bernasconi

    A lifelong friendship with Pablo Picasso and his influece

    René Bernasconi’s enduring bond with Pablo Picasso profoundly influenced his artistic journey. In the 1950s, while crafting decorations for the renowned casino in Cannes, located in the picturesque South of France, Bernasconi crossed paths with the iconic Spanish artist. This serendipitous encounter led to a transformative friendship that spanned a lifetime. Inspired by Picasso’s innovative approach to art, Bernasconi embarked on a creative odyssey that saw him refining his own distinctive style and liberating himself from conventional artistic conventions.

    The intimate exchange with Picasso served as a catalyst for Bernasconi’s artistic evolution, empowering him to embrace novel perspectives and break free from the shackles of tradition. It was during this time, amidst the vibrant atmosphere of Cannes, that Bernasconi also found love, meeting his future wife with whom he would raise four children before eventually settling in Switzerland.

    Unlike many of his contemporaries, Bernasconi eschewed the constraints of artistic movements and ideological affiliations, charting a singular path guided by his innate creativity and the mentorship of Picasso. While deeply influenced by the principles of Cubism, imparted by luminaries like Picasso, Georges Braque, and Marcel Duchamp, Bernasconi’s artistic repertoire transcended singular influences. Over the years, he absorbed a diverse array of stylistic elements, drawing inspiration from artists such as Mark Tobey and others, yet always maintaining his unique artistic identity.

    Today, a select collection of Bernasconi’s paintings resides in the private holdings of his descendants, a testament to his enduring legacy. Additionally, his works are scattered across the globe, gracing galleries in Switzerland and finding a home in esteemed institutions like the Art Museum in Basel. Through his unwavering commitment to artistic integrity and his enduring friendship with Picasso, René Bernasconi continues to captivate audiences with his timeless creations.

  • His Life

    René Bernasconi, a talented artist, was born on April 15th, 1910, in Strasbourg, France, to Emilio Bernasconi, a dentist, and Anna Bernasconi (nee Klein). Growing up in France, a country renowned for its contributions to modernism, deeply influenced René’s artistic development. Throughout the 19th century, France was at the forefront of the avant-garde movement, fostering internationally acclaimed art movements such as Impressionism and Art Nouveau. In the tumultuous years leading up to the Second World War, Paris, in particular, pulsated with vital artistic movements like Cubism, Fauvism, Dadaism, and Surrealism, shaping René’s artistic sensibilities from a young age.

    René’s formative years were spent in Lugano, Switzerland, where his parents nurtured his artistic talents, allowing him the freedom to explore his creative inclinations. Notably, at the tender age of nine, René won a prestigious school painting competition, showcasing his early promise as an artist. Completing his formal education at the age of 16, René embarked on his artistic journey by enrolling at the prestigious Art Academy in Turin, Italy.

    From 1926 to 1930, René honed his skills across various mediums, including lithography, applied art, oil painting, watercolor, and tempera painting. Seeking further artistic enrichment, he pursued studies in Paris at private art schools until 1934. During this period, René also ventured intermittently to southern France, where he sustained himself financially by creating stage decorations and equipment for casinos in Marseille, Nice, and Cannes. Additionally, he found employment in lithography work at various printing houses, further refining his artistic techniques and expanding his repertoire.

    René Bernasconi’s early life and artistic pursuits laid the foundation for a prolific career marked by creativity, versatility, and a deep-rooted connection to the rich artistic heritage of France and beyond.

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    Upon returning to Switzerland, he enlisted in the Swiss army from 1943 to 1945, and subsequently settled in Basel in 1946. Alongside his artistic pursuits, he held a part-time position at a lithography institute for several years. His quest for artistic inspiration led him on study trips to Mediterranean countries, England, Scandinavia, and both North and South Africa. It was during a visit to Cannes where he forged a lifelong friendship with the renowned Spanish artist, Pablo Picasso.

    Throughout his time in Basel, he continued to explore various artistic techniques, reminiscent of his days as an apprentice. He delved into glass painting, mosaics, reliefs, and wall painting, often through invitations to tender from the State Art Loan (Staatlichen Kunstkredits) and private commissions. His later works encompassed travel sketches, nude studies, portraits, and vibrant landscapes.

    In 1959, Bernasconi was commissioned by the Basel Building Department to create four large concrete reliefs for the new school building in Engelgasse, located in Basel’s St. Alban district. In the early 1990s, his contributions to the art world were recognized when he, alongside notable artists such as Joseph Beuys, Francesco Clemente, and Hieronymus Emil Bischoff, generously donated works to the Öffentliche Kunstsammlung Basel des Kunstmuseum Basel.

    Furthermore, his artistic legacy extended to the BEWE Collection, focusing on the Red-Blue Group, and the “Swiss Art of the 20th Century” collection of the National Insurance Company, where his works found a permanent place.