Mesmerised by Monet

Justine Tyerman upsets the men in black at one of the world’s finest art museums, the Fondation Beyeler in Basel, Switzerland.

Justine Tyerman upsets the men in black at one of the world’s finest art museums, the Fondation Beyeler in Basel, Switzerland.

Le bassin aux nymphéas, Water lily pond by Claude Monet. See also video on the Gisborne Herald website.
Le bassin aux nymphéas, Water lily pond by Claude Monet, (detail).
The Fondation Beyeler near Basel, Switzerland.
Iris, Messenger of the Gods (Figure in Flight), sculpture by Auguste Rodin.
Petit paysage rythmé (Small rhythmic landscape), by Paul Klee.
At Anchor, 1932, by Paul Klee
Water Lilies, Nympheas, 1914-17, by Claude Monet
Joseph Beuys, 1980, by Andy Warhol
Buste de femme au chapeau (Dora), 1939, by Pablo Picasso
Trois danseuses, 1903, by Edgar Degas
The Hungry Lion attacking an Antelope, 1898-1905, by Henri Rousseau
Fondation Beyeler near Basel, Switzerland
Wheatfield with Cornflowers, 1890, by Vincent van Gogh
Founders of the museum, celebrated art dealers Ernst and Hildy Beyeler
Landscape with Rooster, 1927, by Joan Mirό

THE men in black suits get highly agitated when you get too close to a Monet, and if you accidentally bump a Rodin while zooming in for a close-up, they have an apoplexy. Even the walls are alarmed — they beep at you when your iPhone swoops in to photograph the name tag beside the artwork.

But after an hour of following me round, the museum minders realised I was no danger to their precious artworks — nor was I an art thief. Just a clumsy ingénue who was over-excited at being in one of the finest art museums in the world. In fact, Melih became quite chatty after a while and told me all sorts of interesting facts about the museum.

It’s a small miracle I got to the Fondation Beyeler at all. The trip to the museum near Basel in Switzerland was cancelled because our group was disbanding earlier than expected and there would be too few left to make the visit worthwhile. I was bitterly disappointed. There was a Monet painting there I had always longed to see, not to mention the opportunity to see works by Picasso, Degas, Rodin, Matisse, van Gogh, Klee and Warhol.

However, in Switzerland, all things are possible and accessible. I picked up a ticket from the concierge at Les Trois Rois, my historic hotel — which is a museum in its own right — jumped on the tram across the road and, 15 minutes later, I was at the Beyeler.

The gallery, a beautiful piece of modern architecture set in lovely gardens, is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year and has mounted three special exhibitions.

Fifty Claude Monet masterpieces from private collections and renowned museums including the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, the Metropolitan Museum in New York, and the Art Institute in Chicago were on display from January to May.

Wolfgang Tillman’s studio pictures, still lifes and portraits were exhibited from May to October, and from October to January 2018, 100 pieces of Paul Klee’s work dating from 1913 — including some of his rarely-exhibited works — are on display.

I was sad to have missed the major Monet exhibition but there were still two of his famous works hanging, including the luminous six-metre-long Le bassin aux nymphéas, which had me utterly mesmerised.

However, it did mean I paid more attention to the exhibition of the moment and learned all about Klee and his contribution to the development of abstract art in Europe.

I also learned about the founders of the museum, celebrated art dealers Ernst and Hildy Beyeler, who assembled a collection of fine works of classical modernism over a period of 50 years.

Looking for a suitable place to build a museum to house the works, Beyeler found it in his hometown of Riehen near Basel. He commissioned Renzo Piano to design the Fondation Beyeler museum which was opened in October, 1997. It is now one of the most important and beautiful art museums in the world.

Attracting tens of thousands of visitors each year from all over the world, the Fondation Beyeler aims to encourage young people to learn about modern art.

I was mightily impressed to see many family groups at the gallery and children showing animated interest in the artworks. There were workshops going on too, involving hundreds of very young children.

THE men in black suits get highly agitated when you get too close to a Monet, and if you accidentally bump a Rodin while zooming in for a close-up, they have an apoplexy. Even the walls are alarmed — they beep at you when your iPhone swoops in to photograph the name tag beside the artwork.

But after an hour of following me round, the museum minders realised I was no danger to their precious artworks — nor was I an art thief. Just a clumsy ingénue who was over-excited at being in one of the finest art museums in the world. In fact, Melih became quite chatty after a while and told me all sorts of interesting facts about the museum.

It’s a small miracle I got to the Fondation Beyeler at all. The trip to the museum near Basel in Switzerland was cancelled because our group was disbanding earlier than expected and there would be too few left to make the visit worthwhile. I was bitterly disappointed. There was a Monet painting there I had always longed to see, not to mention the opportunity to see works by Picasso, Degas, Rodin, Matisse, van Gogh, Klee and Warhol.

However, in Switzerland, all things are possible and accessible. I picked up a ticket from the concierge at Les Trois Rois, my historic hotel — which is a museum in its own right — jumped on the tram across the road and, 15 minutes later, I was at the Beyeler.

The gallery, a beautiful piece of modern architecture set in lovely gardens, is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year and has mounted three special exhibitions.

Fifty Claude Monet masterpieces from private collections and renowned museums including the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, the Metropolitan Museum in New York, and the Art Institute in Chicago were on display from January to May.

Wolfgang Tillman’s studio pictures, still lifes and portraits were exhibited from May to October, and from October to January 2018, 100 pieces of Paul Klee’s work dating from 1913 — including some of his rarely-exhibited works — are on display.

I was sad to have missed the major Monet exhibition but there were still two of his famous works hanging, including the luminous six-metre-long Le bassin aux nymphéas, which had me utterly mesmerised.

However, it did mean I paid more attention to the exhibition of the moment and learned all about Klee and his contribution to the development of abstract art in Europe.

I also learned about the founders of the museum, celebrated art dealers Ernst and Hildy Beyeler, who assembled a collection of fine works of classical modernism over a period of 50 years.

Looking for a suitable place to build a museum to house the works, Beyeler found it in his hometown of Riehen near Basel. He commissioned Renzo Piano to design the Fondation Beyeler museum which was opened in October, 1997. It is now one of the most important and beautiful art museums in the world.

Attracting tens of thousands of visitors each year from all over the world, the Fondation Beyeler aims to encourage young people to learn about modern art.

I was mightily impressed to see many family groups at the gallery and children showing animated interest in the artworks. There were workshops going on too, involving hundreds of very young children.

• Justine travelled to Switzerland with Switzerland Tourism: www.myswitzerland.com

• Fondation Beyeler www.fondationbeyeler.ch/en/

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