• Ensor and Redon in Basel

    by  • February 3, 2014 • Art, Basel, City Breaks, Culture Breaks, Exhibitions

    It seems that Basel is currently the place to be when it comes to temporary exhibitions; I recently blogged about the homage to Marilyn Monroe taking place at the city’s Toy Worlds Museum and two further art exhibitions – one just opened, one upcoming – have today caught my eye. If you’ve elected Basel as your next short break destination, these are perhaps a perfect way to complement the city’s historic, cultural and architectural charms (and escape the winter chill for an hour or two!).

    Foundation Beyeler

    Foundation Beyeler

    First up is the Fondation Beyeler, an impressive gallery/foundation situated a short distance outside Basel close to the German border, which oversees the extensive art collection – amassed over half a decade – of Hildy and Ernst Beyeler. Gifted to the organisation in 1982, the collection was first publicly exhibited in its entirety at Madrid’s Centro de Arte Reina Sofia in 1989 before moving to its permanent home near Basel in 1997. Today, the collection comprises some 200 classic modernist works from the 20th century including paintings by Monet, Rodin, Cézanne, Klee, Chagall, van Gogh, Picasso, Pollock, Kandinsky, Rothko, Warhol and Bacon, in addition to some 25 objects of tribal art from Africa, Oceania and Alaska.

    Launched yesterday and on display until May 18th, the Fondation Beyeler plays host to an exhibition devoted to the French Symbolist painter, Odilon Redon, lauded as one of the most amazing artists of emerging Modernism. Bringing together an impressive ensemble of Redon’s paintings, pastels, drawings and lithographs from private collections and museums across Europe and New York, the exhibition seeks to present and explore all the central and often conflicting themes, ideas and innovations found in his work, from eerie obscurity to cheerful joy, dreams meeting nightmares and nature meeting fantasy. It also looks at his many sources of inspiration be they literature, history of art, music, religion, science and philosophy.

    The Fondation Beyeler is open daily from 10am until 6pm with late-night opening until 8pm on Wednesdays. Entrance costs CHF 25 (11 – 19 years: CHF 19, under 11s free). Your best bet is to get the tram from Basel’s main station, the journey takes approximately 25 minutes.

    Across town meanwhile, mere metres away from the River Rhine, the Kunstmuseum Basel is gearing up to open its doors to a James Ensor exhibition entitled ‘The Surprised Masks’. Running from 16th February until the 25th of May, this rather gruesome ensemble brings together some 60 paintings and drawings on loan from the Royal Museum of Fine Arts in Antwerp and other Swiss collections, depicting ghosts, skulls, skeletons, masks, puppetry and other macabre forms, a consistent thematic thread across Ensor’s work.

    If the art of Ensor isn’t really your stylistic cup of tea, the Kunstmuseum’s permanent collection holds an abundance of artistic treasures worthy of a mention in their own right. Focussing on paintings and drawings by artists active in the Upper Rhine region between 1400 and 1600, as well as on the art of the 19th – 21st centuries, the Kunstmuseum Basel is home to the world’s largest collection of works by the Holbein family as well as being home to several fine examples of Renaissance art. The permanent portfolio includes works by Rubens, Jordaens, Picasso, Klee, Warhol, Chagall, Braque and Léger, amongst many others.

    The museum is open daily from 10am until 6pm (closed Mondays), entrance CHF 19 (13 – 19 years: CHF 8, under 13s free).


    With a French grandmother, childhood holidays on the continent and a degree in French and Spanish, a love of languages and travel has always been in my blood. Fresh from university with an unfettered enthusiasm to show off my linguistic ability and first-hand knowledge of the world beyond the UK, I entered the travel industry and, 16 years on, I’m still there! With several years spent in the luxury sector planning escorted holidays across Europe for the American market, followed by an even longer tenure designing short breaks with a difference in the must-see cities of Paris, Barcelona, Rome, Amsterdam, Madrid, Prague, Florence, Brussels, Venice, Salzburg, Milan, Krakow and Berlin (to name but a few), it’s fair to say that Europe is my passion! Today my travels have taken me far beyond the boundaries of Europe with so many destinations still to discover, yet the continent abounds in such a wealth of treasures – historical and architectural, cultural and musical, gastronomic, artistic and linguistic – that its appeal, for me, will be eternal.