In 2017, the Fondation Beyeler is celebrating its 20th birthday with three special exhibitions of its collection. During the course of the year, the Beyeler Collection will be shown from three different perspectives: with a look back at the first exhibition, with a look at the present, and with a forward gaze.
The first exhibition pays homage to the museum’s founders, Ernst and Hildy Beyeler, by reconstructing the collection’s original hanging at the Fondation Beyeler’s inauguration twenty years ago. It will thereby highlight the founders’ view of their own collection and document the point of departure for the subsequent presentations.
The big summer exhibition of 2017 will be devoted to the work of the artist Wolfgang Tillmans (*1968).
The show will centre on the studio as a working space in which his photographs are tested and produced for the first time, as well as the studio as social place, where Tillmans spends much of his life. A complex entity that influences the images in different ways. The exhibition will develop along pictures from that working space – studio pictures, still lifes and portraits. At the same time, such photographs provide starting points outlined in the exhibition through Tillmans’s extraordinary pictorial experiments and the pictorial inventions in which they result. At this point, music and film come into play as well.
Tillmans first made a name for himself in the early 1990s through today iconic photographs that captured the attitude of an entire generation and a youth culture of which he was part and which previously had no images of its own. However, he soon widened his focus more and more, experimenting with the means of photography to identify new images – works created with and without camera, photographs printed as C-prints on photographic paper, as inkjet prints on paper, or as photocopies.
Creating images at the edges of the visible lies at the heart of Tillmans’s art. He seeks to provoke visibility or, conversely, to obfuscate it. Since the late 1980s he has created an extraordinary and extremely influential body of work.
The exhibition is the first comprehensive engagement with the medium of photography at the Fondation Beyeler. In close cooperation with Wolfgang Tillmans, it will present an extensive selection of C-prints and inkjet prints as well as films and sound works.
The second exhibition in the series will show the collection in its present state. In recent years, it has started to be extended through acquisitions designed to give it a contemporary facet. The interaction between acquisitions and the existing collection is always a key criterion for decisions about what to select. This presentation will showcase the dialog between artists and the collection in many different ways.
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.
The third exhibition of the series will show possible ways in which the Fondation Beyeler’s collection could be extended through loans from certain private collections closely associated with the museum, as well as through acquisitions and donations.