What do you know about Basel? Perhaps that, after Zürich and Geneva, is the third most populous Swiss city. Or that, being located where the Swiss, German and French border meet, it basically allows you to visit three countries in one go. But did you know that Basel has a Mediterranean climate and as many as 300 days of sunshine a year? And that when you stay in a hotel or other type of accommodation in the city, you’ll receive a Mobility Ticket when you check in which allows you to use the entire public transport network free of charge? In short: there’s much more to Basel than you might think – Basel rocks.
Is Basel Really A City Of Art?
YES. Clear answer! I have just visited the city to see the new Museum of Fine Arts (Kunstmuseum) extension, and the new Picasso collection at the Fondation Beyeler, and it was fantastic. This is for sure the #1 thing to do in Basel: art – followed by a good meal.
40 Museums. A New building for the Kunstmuseum, just opened. A Love for Picasso and regular new exhibitions: Basel always offers the latest in matters art. So what are exactly the Picasso stories behind the exhibitions?
Basel People Love Picasso
In the legendary Picasso year, 1967, Peter Staechelin, owner of two beautiful Picasso in the Kunstmuseum, was hit by financial problems and decided to sell his paintings. The people of Basel immediately voted to acquire them, and raised even more money than needed (from the Government, but also with private donations by entrepreneurs, celebrities, etc). Picasso and his wife were so moved that gave three paintings and a study to Basel. I don’t think this could have happened anywhere else in the world! Basel people are genuinely interested in art indeed.
On top of that, at Fondation Beyeler, I had the honour (and luck) of being invited to a talk by Dr. Erich Marx, who just donated some beautiful Picasso paintings to the Museum. When asked how he decided to collect art, he simply said that many of his friends started to collect paintings and hide what they were buying. Out of a sort of peer pressure, he started too, and really got into it. At one point, in the 70’s, he borrowed 25 ml in order to buy more, and that “was not little”, he said. But his investment turned up to go “not well, but rather very, very, very,very well”, he candidly admitted. Asked if he personally knew all the artists he collected paintings of, Mr. Marx said yes, and told us also a couple of juicy stories. For example that the painting of a woman with two faces represented Picasso’s steady lover (the smaller face in the image – she was kind of disappearing after all), and a new lover (the big one). He was having both girls at the same time, literally! Mr. Marx finished his entertaining talk by telling everybody “I do have one thing to say, before leaving you: be tolerant and open, with art. Give art a possibility and remain open, in art and in life too”.
The Perfect End To An Art Day: Noohn Restaurant
In the same evening of my visit, Noohn, the “in” restaurant in Basel, was celebrating 10 years. A gala dinner was followed by live music, dancing and a completely relaxed and fun atmosphere. I got changed and was glad about it, because most couples were really elegant. And since after Marathon des Sables I am always starving, I also fully enjoyed the delicious Asian food, cleaning the plate so well that I impressed the waiter. It was the perfect end of a perfect day – interesting, fun and that really felt like a holiday.