June 14, 2006

A Beautiful Day in Bern

It certainly feels like summer here in Switzerland with glorious sunny days and warm evenings where one can sit outside and enjoy the extended daylight hours. A nice change from the cold and rain we endured for weeks in New York!

On Wednesday, we took a one hour train ride from Zurich to the Capital City of Bern. The main purpose of the outing was to visit the newly opened "Zentrum Paul Klee" a foundation devoted to the life and work of the city's most famous son. Located just outside town, across the river Aare and surrounded by pastures, are three steel and glass "hills" the creation of Renzo Piano in another museum commission undertaken in 1998 and opened to the public in June 2005. From the exterior, the building is stunning - reflecting the rolling green hills of the landscape in an almost surreal vision.

Paul Klee (1879-1940) was destined to be an artist. It was all he ever wanted to be and he lived and breathed his art. Although he moved within various art groups, from "Der Blaue Reiter" with Kandinsky and Macke in 1911, to Walter Gropius and the Bauhaus group, and finally "Die Blaue Vier" (Kandinsky, Jawlensky, Feininger and Klee) in the 1920's, Klee always remained true to his own style. "Colour possesses me" said Paul Klee in 1911, and this is clearly evident in his work. A Klee painting or drawing is typically full of color and light, whimsy and a joy that is almost child-like. Despite the debilitating disease which caused his untimely death, Paul Klee's artistic output is remarkable and each work is a treasure.

After the Zentrum Paul Klee, we visited the Fine Art Museum where we were under-whelmed by a retrospective of the work of the Surrealist artist and native daughter, Meret Oppenheim, entitled "An Enormously Tiny Bit of a Lot", but could have been called, in my humble opinion, "Much Ado About Nothing". Except for her well-known fur tea cup, the show was not inspiring.

Much more interesting was a small exhibition of works by the American Abstract Expressionist Sam Francis who had lived in Bern in the 1950's. He started to paint after he crash-landed his fighter jet during WWII and ended up in the hospital. This beautiful show is an homage to the years in Switzerland and his influence on several important Swiss artists.

The day had a perfect ending as we enjoyed an elegant dinner on the Terasse of the Bellevue Hotel which overlooks the river and the mountains in the distance. We had such a nice time that we had to run to catch the last train back to Zurich and to bed!

No comments: