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Fondation Beyeler – Hello, 2017

The Fondation Beyeler in Riehen is about to celebrate its 20th birthday. It has increased the cultural activity in the three–country region around Basel with its strong and directed attention of fostering the entrance into art appreciation.

By Shirley L. Kearney

When the Fondation Beyeler was conceived, the hope was that 70,000 visitors a year would walk through the doors; now the average attendance to the 91 exhibitions is 300,000. With support from a private foundation, it is the most visited museum in Switzerland. And as a bit of icing on the cake: Sam Keller, Director of the Fondation received an honorary doctorate from the philosophy and history faculty of the University of Basel during its yearly “Dies Academia” ceremony.

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Seen from outside: the Renzo Piano building and the whirlpool installation by Philippe Parreno

The 1997 Renzo Piano building and the Berower Park could be considered reason enough for a visit to Riehen. Upon entering or leaving the museum, cast your eyes on the pool and be hypnotised by the whirlpool installation created by Philippe Parreno. But once through the door, a humming world of art embraces you.

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View from inside out

The Fondation’s ongoing dedication of enticing youth to enter the world of artistic creativity is noteworthy: 433 classes and 99 workshops were held last year; the number of schools that put the Fondation on their curriculum continuously expands. There is something for all young people: ateliers, labs, the Young Art Club, a Sun.Set programme, and more is germinating in the heads of the planning board. An added birthday gift is free entrance for those under 25.

Three exhibitions of the permanent collection are on the celebratory calendar:

  • The Original (5 February to 7 May) with a refashioning of the original hanging paying homage to the founders Ernst and Hildy Beyeler.
  • Remixed (11 June to September), with a visual dialogue between the artists and the collection influenced through acquisitions and how they interact.
  • In cooperation (15 October to 1 January 2018), a fanciful concept of how the collection could look with further acquisitions and donations.

“The magical event of the year” to quote the Fondation arrives on 22 January and will remain in situ until 28 May. Claude Monet (1840-1926) a founder of the French- impressionist style of painting outdoors (plein air) will be exhibited in Switzerland for the first time in over ten years. 50 masterpieces from private collections and eminent museums offer a feast for the eyes.

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Claude Monet: (some of) his works will be the year’s highlight at Beyeler. 

For another exhibition, a visual leap is required to delve into the contemporary photographic oeuvres of Wolfgang Tillmans (*1968) (28 May-1 October). Tillmans’ medium is the first comprehensive engagement with photography at the Fondation. He travels further with reality, or the reality we comprehend, staying all the time somewhere on the edge.

From 1 October-21 January 2018 we return to the time of Paul Klee (1879-1940).  Abstraction was the force leading the art world away from figurativeness. The German-Swiss artist accepted this challenge and created over 10,000 works during his lifetime with nature, architecture, music and written characters his major themes. A retrospect with more than 100 works from local and international institutions will certainly bring smiles to all visitors. Paul Klee is the most represented artist in the Beyeler Collection – after Pablo Picasso. During his career as a gallery owner, Ernst Beyeler sold more than 500 of Klee’s works.

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The Fondation Beyeler building, seen from a distance.

 A new two volume catalogue will soon be available online – and the Fondation remains Switzerland’s No.1 museum in the digital realm. And tickets for the Monet exhibition can be pre-ordered at www.fondationbeyeler.ch

All pictures searched & downloaded via Google “marked for reuse

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