October 1, 2017 – January 21, 2018

The exhibition is devoted to a previously little explored aspect of Paul Klee’s work, namely abstraction. 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 (V 10) and Signs in Yellow, 1937, 210 (U 10).

Room Guide

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Adults D, E, F
CHF / € 8.-
Art Club: CHF / € 7.-
Dauer: 45 Min 

Available at the information desk
in the museum.
Audio sample


Paul Klee is born in Münchenbuchsee near Bern on December 18, 1879, the second child of Hans Klee (1849–1940) and Ida Klee, née Frick (1855–1921). His sister Mathilde (1876–1953) was born three years earlier. His father is a music teacher at the Staatliches Lehrerseminar, a training college for teachers in Hofwil near Bern; his mother is a trained singer.

Interview with Jenny Holzer

Jenny Holzer reading from her text in the catalogue

Catalogue «Paul Klee»

Paul Klee (1879-1940) is one of the most influential painters of European modernism. With an oeuvre comprising nearly ten thousand works, numerous solo and group exhibitions of his work have been mounted well beyond his lifetime. To this very day, the intense interest in his work has not waned. And yet there has never been an exhibition that has extensively examined Klee’s relationship to abstraction. The show at the Fondation Beyeler —along with the accompanying catalogue, which is “underscored” by insightful texts from well-known authors —is closing this gap. Four groups of themes — nature, architecture, painting, and graphic characters —make up the golden thread through Klee’s body of work whose formal repertoire repeatedly oscillates between the semi-representational and the absolute abstract, and which are examined here in separate chapters. Thus one not only gains in-depth insight into Klee’s involvement with abstraction — new references to his contemporaries, as well as to artists of later generations, are unveiled.

200 Pages with 161 illustrations 
Edition Hardback
Size 24.5 x 30.5 cm

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The exhibition «KLEE» is being supported by: 





Annetta Grisard


Hansjörg Wyss,
Wyss Foundation


L. & Th. La Roche Stiftung


Simone C. und Peter Forcart-Staehelin


Walter Haefner Stiftung