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Indepth Arts News:

"Paul Klee: The Buergi Collection"
2000-05-05 until 2000-07-23
Hamburger Kunsthalle
Hamburg, , DE Germany

Buergi Collection is - next to that of the Klee family - the largest and most important private collection of Paul Klee's work. Gathered together during the lifetime of the artist (1879-1940) and that of his widow Lily Klee (1876-1946), this collection of some 130 works represents an otherwise unparalleled cross-section of the different periods of Paul Klee's artistic career.

his first - and perhaps last - presentation of Bürgi Collection not only offers the viewing public an excellent survey of Klee's art, it also illustrates a long-term commitment to the support of art which had a major influence on the life and work of Paul Klee and his artistic estate over more than four decades are to be demonstrated and acknowledged in the exhibition and the accompanying catalogue. Johanna Bürgi-Bigler (1880-1938) was not only the first collector of Klee's work, she also laid the foundations of the largest private Klee collection in the world, which by the late 1930s already amounted to more than 50 works. After her death her son Rolf Buergi (1906-1967) continued to extend the collection.

Following Paul Klee's emigration to Berne from Duesseldorf at the and of 1933, he and his wife Lily formed a close friendship with Johanna Bürgi-Bigler, and it was on her initiative that the Kunsthalle Berne held the first major exhibition of Klee's work in Switzerland in 1935. From 1933 onwards Rolf Bürgi supported the Klees as their advisor in tax and financial matters, and after Paul Klee's death he became a kind of private secretary to Lily Klee. It was in this capacity that he arranged the sale of Paul Klee's complete artistic estate to the Berne collectors Hermann Rupf and Hans Meyer-Benteli shortly before Lily Klee's death, to prevent the works of art being converted into cash for the benefit of the Allies, in line with the Washington Agreement. In 1947 Bürgi, Rupf and Meyer-Benteli, together with the architect Werner Allenbach, founded the Paul Klee Foundation with the art from Klee's estate. Since 1952 the foundation has been based in the Kunstmuseum Berne. The exhibition was initiated and first shown in the Kunstmuseum Berne by Stefan Frey and Josef Helfenstein. After Hamburg it will tour to the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh (12 August - 22 October 2000). A comprehensive catalogue of the exhibition and a publication on the Bürgi sketchbook have been published.

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