The Im Obersteg Collection at the Kunstmuseum Basel
Since January 2004, the Im Obersteg Collection has been housed in the Kunstmuseum Basel as a permanent loan. As far as its history of collecting and its biography goes, this private Basel collection has been closely allied with the Museum, where it represents a spectacular addition of more than 200 works of Classical Modernism, many of major importance. After the first presentation in its entirety in the spring of 2004 and according to the agreement, 45 major works of the Im Obersteg Collection are permanently exhibited, in part as a self-contained ensemble, in part as single works integrated into the presentation of the museum’s collection. The two exhibition rooms of the Im Obersteg Foundation on the mezzanine floor of the main building now host periodically changing exhibitions on selected themes from the Im Obersteg Collection, supplemented by works from the Kunstmuseum. Every ten years, a representative survey exhibition of the collection is realized in the Kunstmuseum.
The integration of the Im Obersteg Collection into the Kunstmuseum Basel is proof enough that the holdings of two institutions mutually complement and enhance each other aesthetically and art-historically. The Chagall Room on the upper floor, thanks to Im Obersteg’s three Rabbis and the 1914 Self-Portrait, brings together a group of the artist’s first-rate early works that are unique in quality. The 1901 Buveuse d’absinthe, as Basel’s only major work from the Blue Period, marks the starting point of its world-renown Picasso collection. Quite unparalleled is the Alexej von Jawlensky work group that reflects the entire productivity of the Russian, while the somewhat smaller group of paintings by Chaïm Soutine also gives Basel a new exciting accent.