Paul Klee

We are grateful to Alexander Klee and his family for graciously consenting to act as patrons of our association, and together we intend to raise awareness and resources to further research and overcome this disease. We are in a new and optimistic era of targeted molecular, biological and cellular therapies, which have already impacted on other autoimmune diseases and give hope to our scleroderma patients. Let us take the star from ‘Dieser Stern lehrt beugen’ (this star teaches us to accept our fate) as not just an acceptance of the inevitable, but as a ‘star of hope’ for the future.

Zentrum Paul Klee


Although human suffering is universal, not all of us are gifted with the creative talent to express such emotions; we are therefore grateful to Hans Suter for this splendid book in which we share this anguish through the eyes of a creative genius, Paul Klee. In one of his last pictures, ‘Tod und Feuer’ (Death and fire), one sees the tight, ashen face of the scleroderma sufferer facing his imminent demise.

Bowed but Not Broken by Suffering and Adversity
In 1933 Paul Klee’s work was branded as ‘Entartete Kunst’ (Degenerate Art) by the National Socialists and he was dismissed from his professorial post at the Duesseldorf Academy of Fine Arts. This led him, together with his wife Lily, to return to his ‘real home’ of Bern. Here his avant-garde art was not understood and Klee found himself in involuntary isolation. In 1935 Klee started to suffer from a mysterious disease. The symptoms included changes to the skin and problems with the internal organs. In 1940 Paul Klee died, but it was only 10 years after his death that the illness was actually given the name ‘scleroderma’ in a publication about Klee. However, the diagnosis remained mere conjecture.
Since his adolescence, the dermatologist and venereologist Dr. Hans Suter has been fascinated by Paul Klee and his art, and more than 30 years ago this fascination spurred him to commence research into the illness and its influence on the art of Paul Klee’s final years. It was due to Dr. Suter’s meticulous investigations that Klee’s illness could be defined as ‘diffuse systemic sclerosis’. In this book the author assembles his findings and describes the rare and complex disease in a clear and comprehensible way. Further, he empathically interprets more than 90 of Klee’s late works.The point of view of a dermatologist renders a unique source of information. It provides, on one hand, new insights into everyday medical practices at the University of Bern in the 1930s, which fascinates doctors and local historians alike. On the other hand, art historians and art lovers will be absorbed by the newly discovered links between Paul Klee’s work and his illness.

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With around 4’000 works at its disposal the Zentrum Paul Klee has the most significant collection of paintings, aquarelles and drawings world-wide and includes archive and biographical material from all the periods of Paul Klee’s works.

A principal task of the Zentrum Paul Klee is to ensure that the artistic, pedagogic and theoretical work of Paul Klee as well as its significance within the cultural and social context of its time, is scientifically developed and communicated through various channels and media.

By posing topical questions, new scientific interpretations and by developing innovative forms of communication, the Zentrum Paul Klee aims to bring Paul Klee’s artistic genius into the present.

It maintains an efficient and modern research infrastructure and develops distinctive proposals for exhibition and communication programmes, in accordance with scientific and public demands.

The Zentrum Paul Klee contains:

– Rooms of high aesthetic and functional quality for the presentation of temporary exhibitions.

– An open and public accessible zone of the Museumsstrasse which encourages a critical look at art by means of various media as well as the encounter between art and art enthusiasts,

– A generously conceived activity area for children, young people and adults encourages the development of their own creativity,

– An auditorium with ideal conditions for musical experiences,

– Modern equipped rooms for events and seminars to deal with themes on subject matter from the most varied areas of culture, science and business,

– A building designed by architect Renzo Piano that with its  surroundings offers a unique symbiosis of nature and culture.

The Zentrum Paul Klee was made possible through the generosity to the founder families Klee and Müller, the sovereign power of the City, the Canton and Burgergemeinde Bern as well as partners from business.

The concrete activities of the Zentrum Paul Klee are derived from the statutes of the Foundation of the Zentrum Paul Klee and are orientated toward realising the subsidy agreement with the Canton Berne, the City of Berne and the communities of the Regional Conference of Bern-Mittelland, the guidelines of the International Council of Museums ICOM as well as internal business regulations. As an institution, only partially supported by public funds, the Zentrum Paul Klee adheres in its business activities, especially in the declaration of accounts, to the  principles of transparency and submits to regular controls through the subsidisers.