Art News

Exhibition at the Kunstmuseum Basel Explores Karl Im Obersteg’s Friendship with Artists

BASEL.- This integral overview at the Im Obersteg Foundation focuses on Karl Im Obersteg’s artist friendships. It presents some 100 paintings, drawings and bronze sculptures, as well as a large selection of letters from the Foundation’s collection. It all began in Ticino, southern Switzerland, in 1919: Karl Im Obersteg, a young haulage contractor from Basel, was recovering from the Spanish flu as Eastern European artists were finding refuge in Switzerland. They all headed for the small town of Ascona whose southern climate and Italian ambiance attracted many artists and intellectuals. As several hundred letters testify, Im Obersteg’s casual encounters with artists grew into friendships. While some correspondence was business-related, many letters reflect the artists’ intensifying personal relationships with the collector. A particularly moving example are Alexej von Jawlensky’s letters which repeatedly allude to his great suffering from an incurable rheumatic illness that caused