In the first half of the twentieth century, the move away from figurativeness and the development of abstract art became a key theme for many European artists. The Swiss artist Paul Klee also responded to this challenge: the almost 10,000 works he created in the course of his career include exciting examples of the development of abstract pictorial worlds and of the processes of abstraction in painting. The key aspects of Klee’s abstract works are, moreover, a central strand of his entire oeuvre: nature, architecture, music and written characters.
The retrospective exhibition will present around 100 works from all periods of Klee’s career – starting in 1913 – and will bring together valuable loans from numerous renowned institutions and private collections in Europe and overseas. Alongside major masterpieces, it will feature rarely exhibited works that show Paul Klee in a surprising new light.
With a total of 20 works, Paul Klee is the best represented artist in the Beyeler Collection after Pablo Picasso. Both as a collector and as an art dealer, Ernst Beyeler, the founder of our museum, championed Paul Klee’s art in many different ways. In all, around 500 works by Klee passed through the hands of the Basel collector and gallery owner. As a collector, Ernst Beyeler chiefly concentrated on Klee’s late work, which he particularly esteemed for “the quality of its colors and its expressiveness”. Over the years, he accumulated a remarkable collection that includes masterpieces like Rising Star, 1931, 230 and Signs in Yellow, 1937, 210.