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The Im Obersteg Foundation was founded 1992 by Doris Im Obersteg-Lerch and is based in Basel since 2004. The foundation’s capital, the important classical modern collection of Karl and Jürg Im Obersteg, has been housed in the Kunstmuseum Basel ever since. The collection consists of about 190 paintings, sculptures and works on paper as well as a comprehensive archive of artist letters. The aim of the foundation is to preserve the collection and make it accessible to the public through exhibitions and publications. After an inaugural exhibition from February to May in 2004, 40 works of the Im Obersteg Collection are now permanently on view at the Kunstmuseum Basel in rotating presentations.

Doris Im Obersteg-Lerch, widow of Jürg Im Obersteg, entrusts one of the last important privat collections of classical modernism in this country to her home town. For the Kunsmuseum Basel this is a most rich addition.

World-famous masterpieces such as Marc Chagall’s three Rabbi portraits or Buveuse d’absinthe by Pablo Picasso – a chief work from the beginning of the blue period - ideally complement the museum’s own collection. A group of 30 works by Alexej von Jawlensky, unique to Switzerland, and an ensemble of paintings by Chaïm Soutine set new accents in Basel.

The haulage contractor and art connoisseur Karl Im Obersteg (1883-1969) from Basel and his son Jürg (1914-1983) collected international art of the 20th century over a period of 70 years. Their purchases were not guided by a specific collection concept, but rather by friendships with certain artists, particularly Jawlensky, and a preference for expressive and figurative paintings. An ongoing leitmotif was not only the the expressive power of color, but also the penetrative and even melancholic view on the human existence.


  • Dr. Matthias Hagemann (president)
  • Dr. Hans Furer (secretary)
  • Dr. Ruth Ludwig-Hagemann (vice-president)
  • Dr. Josef Helfenstein
  • Toni Stooss
  • Roland Wetzel
  • Henriette Mentha


Géraldine Meyer
St. Alban-Graben 8
CH-4010 Basel
Telefon +41 (0)61 206 62 44
Fax +41 (0)61 206 62 52

Accompanying Publication

The complete collection is published in the revised German catalogue:

Die Sammlung Im Obersteg im Kunstmuseum Basel

Authors: Stiftung im Obersteg (Hrsg.) / Publisher: Kunstmuseum Basel (Schwabe Verlag) / 288 pp.; 263 color and 84 b/w pic.; 23.5 × 29 cm, Hardcover