StoriesOn the trail of painter Paul Klee through Bern
The Zentrum Paul Klee houses the largest collection of work by this world-class artist, who spent half his life in Bern. Visitors not only admire his pictures, they also get to pick up a paintbrush themselves.
Bern is much more than Switzerland’s city of politics!
The quality of art and culture is superlative.
Bern recalls Klee at every turn
For Klee, Bern was both home and a place of refuge. He grew up here and as a young man filled countless sketchbooks with views of Bern. He moved to Germany in 1906, but in 1933 fled from the Nazis back to Bern. The most productive year of his career was 1939, with 1,253 recorded works; he died just one year later. It is no surprise that Bern’s Old Town – a UNESCO World Heritage Property – recalls Paul Klee at every turn. His traces are everywhere, several streets are named after his pictures, and of course Paul Klee also recorded the famous Zytglogge Tower.
From the Old Town to the culture centre
Visitors can explore Paul Klee’s Bern on a guided tour, “Ways to Klee”. It leads through the Old Town to PROGR, short for “Progymnasium” where Paul Klee went to high school and graduated in 1898. Today, the former school building is a centre for cultural production. About 150 artists are at work: Graphic artists, choreographers, film makers. The former teachers' room is now a café-bar and in the gym parties and concerts take place on weekends.
The tour «Ways to Klee» ends at the Zentrum Paul Klee, which is both a museum and a cultural centre.
The Zentrum Paul Klee, designed by the internationally renowned Italian architect Renzo Piano, opened in 2005. A good 4,000 of the nearly 10,000 works by Klee can be admired here – the largest collection of work by the artist.
Pick up a paintbrush!
At the Zentrum Paul Klee visitors not only admire art pieces but they also get to pick up a paintbrush themselves: art educator and artist Franz Brülhart has introduced Klee’s painting methods to IT experts from the Federal Palace in Bern, journalists from America and families from all over the world. Brülhart often sings with participants on his courses; as Paul Klee once said: “A picture is like a song.”
Learning from Paul Klee
Franz Brülhart’s hands are covered with spots of colour. He laughs and says: “Paul Klee loved colours!” At his workshops, Brülhart helps participants develop their own approach to art, always starting from the work of the great Paul Klee. Brülhart says: “We can learn a lot from the methods and procedures of the artist.” At the end of a three-hour workshop, Brülhart looks at the results with his participants. The reaction of visitors is always the same: “Wow! How on earth did I manage that?”