Meet the Institutions | Fondation Beyeler

Meet the Institutions | Fondation Beyeler

November 22, 2019 0 By Kody Olson


The Beyeler collection is… a collection that starts
where impressionism ends. And it goes until present day. So it’s a modern
and contemporary art exhibition starting with Monet, Cézanne, Van Gogh. Almost a backbone is Picasso, then goes Matisse, Giacometti, American abstract expressionism
to American pop art to contemporary art,
strongly in German painting. What I can say about Ernst Beyeler is that the relationships to artists
mattered very much to him. He didn’t only have a relationship
with the most famous artists, for him also the local artists mattered. Some of his best friends
were local artists. But when it came to make decisions, it was always quality, and then he could make a real
difference between his friendships and his professional decisions. For me, obviously,
he was a mentor and friend. He was a very charismatic, elegant man, great sense of humor. Many people tell the story
that he never had a car, he always went to work by bicycle
and stuff like that. He was an inspiration for many people. It was a very positive virus
he was spreading. When you arrive to the Beyeler
for the first time, you first notice nature
and not architecture and art. So the first thing you actually see
is beautiful trees and a view into the landscape. You first are looking for the buildings and you see some historical buildings and then you only come
to the Renzo Piano building. Always through nature you go then to art. As you come in
you don’t have to climb any steps. You just glide into the museum. Then you notice
that it has a very human scale – benches everywhere
and there’s a winter garden. You never lose the connection
to outside, to nature. And even if you are in galleries
which don’t have windows, the natural light
that is bathing all the rooms is something that the artists
love about this place, why many major artists think their work
looks particularly beautiful here. At the center of what we try
to create at the Beyeler is a personal, a direct relationship
between the visitor and the artwork. We are trusting great artworks that something is happening
when you encounter them. And it’s not only
what the curators are thinking but there’s also a sensual, an emotional way in that you can interact
with the artworks. There is something that happens between a human being
and a great work of art. And everything else
has to stand to the side. Fondation Beyeler is working on extension. We selected
Swiss architect Peter Zumthor. The Beyeler has a quiet and adjacent park with beautiful centuries-old trees, which is so far a private park,
and we’ll turn it into a public park and we’ll realize three buildings there. This relationship between nature,
architecture and art, which is so much
part of the Beyeler experience, will be enhanced with the extension. There is a couple of works
that are still some of my favorites: Monet’s Water Lilies. And then we have recently installed those two benches by Jenny Holzer, which became one of my favorite spots
when I need a break. In a busy museum it’s good
to have a quiet place sometimes.