One of the cornerstones of the late Ernst Beyeler’s collection was art by Paul Klee. A new retrospective focusing on the Swiss-German artist’s abstractions offers the chance to experience his fantastic, expressive and witty creations using Beyeler’s holdings as well as loans covering the artist’s output from 1913 onward. Klee valued the purity of original ideas and never ceased experimenting. Applying paint in unusual ways to materials such as burlap, cardboard panel and muslin, he used abstraction to explore nature, architecture, music and fictional characters.
PAUL KLEE’S BOOTE IN DER ÜBERFLUTUNG, 1937, IN COLOURED PASTE ON WRAPPING PAPER, MOUNTED ON CARDBOARD. © FONDATION BEYELER, RIEHEN/BASEL, BEYELER COLLECTION/PHOTO BY ROBERT BAYER.
Having developed a deep interest in colour theory, Klee saw it as a way to escape from his natural cynicism into the optimistic nobility of art. Writing about Klee in 1916, fellow artist Oskar Schlemmer noted: “He is everything; profound, gentle and many more of the good things, and this because he is innovative.”
Paul Klee will be on view at Fondation Beyeler, Basel, from 1 October–21 January 2018.