Paul Klee

Celebrate Paul Klee’s 139th Birthday at the Tate Gallery in London

Grace Piney

Rediscover the work of Paul Klee on his 139th birthday by viewing array of pieces displayed at the Tate Modern in London and the National Gallery of Canada, highlighting some of his best and most prominent work over the years.

In recognition of Paul Klee’s 139th birthday rediscover his works at the Tate Gallery in London and see his exhibit “The EY Exhibition: Paul Klee – Making Visible,” firsthand. The exhibition, which originally debuted on October 16, 2013 through  March 24, 2014, presented an array of works by Paul Klee between 1879 – 1940. The display was the first joint venture organized by a partnership between Tate United Kingdom and the international consultancy firm Ernst & Young, which agreed to join the Museum in showcasing three first class exhibitions.
Paul Klee Remembrance Sheet of a Conception
Paul Klee Remembrance Sheet of a Conception. PHOTOS: All photos courtesy Tate Gallery.
The work of Paul Klee, while not easy to classify can be compared with works by artists such as Matisse, Picasso or Kandinsky. His unmistakable painting style stands out for its surprising inventiveness, deep intelligence and recurring magical surroundings. As a result, these factors have made him an exemplary figure of European modernism, and has influenced other abstract artists such as the Catalan Joan Miró or the Latvian Mark Rothko.
Paul Klee
PAUL KLEE. Fire at Full Moon, 1933. PHOTOS: All photos courtesy Tate Gallery.

Without any doubt, he is one of the principal visual artists of the turn of the century (19th -20th), his works, which are still on display at the Tate regale guests with a selection of paintings, drawings and watercolors on loan, from private and public collections from around the world, making it the most significant exhibit of the artist’s work since his death in 1940.

The exhibit, which is organized chronologically, begins with the period that marked the artist’s popularity during World War I. It was then that he developed his classic “magic squares,” abstract color mosaics that would later become a distinguishing characteristic of his pieces.

At the heart of the exhibit, pieces from his teaching years at the Bauhaus shine throughout the museum. During his time at Bauhaus, he created numerous abstract paintings, including the celebrated Afternoon Fire (1929).

Finally, the exhibit delves into his works created after 1930, when the Nazis dismissed him from his professorial duties and forced him into exile in Switzerland. All of his works were removed from German galleries for being considered “degenerate art.” This situation brought Klee to one of the most prolific moments of his life, which is brilliantly reflected throughout the exhibition.

Paul Klee
PAUL KLEE. Comedy, 1921. PHOTOS: All photos courtesy Tate Gallery.

Another interesting fact about the exhibition is that it showcases works that were grouped together using the same criteria and instructions left by the artist himself, allowing guests to enjoy multiple messages, sensations and meanings that the artist wanted to convey. Although he described his art as a spontaneous creative process of growth and natural evolution, this exhibition allows the viewer to appreciate the stringency of his work.

Paul Klee Steps 1929
Paul Klee Steps 1929. PHOTOS: All photos courtesy Tate Gallery.

The EY exhibition at London’s Tate Gallery is certainly a unique opportunity for the contemporary audience to view a broad sample of the artist’s work in one gallery and is a great precursor to his latest exhibition “Paul Klee: The Berggruen Collection from The Metropolitan Museum of Art,” being showcased at the National Gallery of Canada from November 16, 2018 to March 17, 2019.  

Klee’s meticulous yet whimsical approach to art-making in which color, expressiveness and poetry, is highlighted in this recent exhibition of 75 drawings, along with watercolors and paintings from the prestigious Berggruen Klee Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the largest collection of works by Paul Klee in North America, according the the gallery’s website.

This selection spans the artist’s entire career — from childhood, through his most prolific period as a teacher at the celebrated Bauhaus, to his death in 1940.

Learn more about this amazing artist and his works here and help wish Paul Klee a happy birthday by appreciating his art at these prestigious art institutions. 

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