Paul Klee, Entrance to the abandoned garden,
1935 © Private Collection, Bern


Opening Hours 

- September
 Daily except Tuesdays 10 am – 6 pm
 Open on public holidays.

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Max Liebermann and Paul Klee

Pictures of Gardens

10 June to 17 September 2018

Max Liebermann created over 200 oil paintings depicting his garden at Wannsee. These works – the paint applied thickly, in an impressionist style – came to define the artist’s late work. Yet contrary to Liebermann’s belief, impressionism did not mark the end point of modern artistic developments. As Liebermann worked at Wannsee, other artists were discovering the subject of the garden for themselves.

Nature was particularly important for the Swiss artist Paul Klee. His parent’s garden provided him with an early source of inspiration, where as a boy he would observe and draw the plants around him. On long walks he would sketch flowers and park-like landscapes. Yet he soon grew impatient with the limitations of realism. In an attempt to capture some internal essence of his subjects he turned to the abstract, transforming the depicted objects into only loosely recognizable forms. Klee’s garden scenes became geometric compositions, reduced to the elemental: a curve for an arched gateway, parallel lines for borders or pathways, a stylized tree for a mass of vegetation.

The garden pictures of Paul Klee and Max Liebermann are formally worlds apart: on the one hand abstraction, on the other impressionism. It is therefore all the more surprising, that the majority of these works were created during the exact same time-frame, between 1915 and 1935.

The exhibition “Max Liebermann and Paul Klee: Garden Pictures” is the first to explore the garden pictures of Liebermann and Klee side by side. While highlighting the specificity of their respective formal languages, the exhibition will also illustrate the similarities between the two artists. Both defined gardens via the same set of visual markers: flowerbeds, gateways, trees and pathways. Both understood the garden as an architectural intervention into nature. And both returned to the writings of Goethe to justify their artistic approach.

Patron of the exhibition is Her Excellency Christine Schraner Burgener, the former Swiss Ambassador to the Federal Republic of Germany.