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UNITED KINGDOM. Paul Klee at Tate Modern until March 2013
27/10/2013 00:58:10

A teacher at the Bauhaus and a member of the radical art movement Blue Rider, Paul Klee was one of the key figures of early modern art. Born in Switzerland in 1879, he rejected a career in music for art, but music remained central to the composition of his paintings, instilling in them a dynamic rhythm.

He lived through two world wars and witnessed the rise of Fascism in Germany, being dismissed from his post at the Bauhaus and labelled a degenerate by Hitler. Yet his paintings and drawings remained witty and life affirming, exemplified by his spontaneous series ‘taking a line for a walk’.

This exhibition charts the three stages of his career, from his early breakthroughs during the First World War, when he developed his individual abstract patchwork of colours, through his time at the Bauhaus to his return to Switzerland at the end of his life.

That mix of romanticism and pragmatism characterises every aspect of an oeuvre that is among the strangest in classical modernism. From his early hieroglyphs denoting moons and mountains to the mature landscapes of the mind and memory with which he demonstrated how “art does not reproduce the visible; rather it makes visible”, Klee reshaped German romanticism and its urgent interiority into the language of abstraction. He took from cubism, constructivism and surrealism to do so but, evoking both dreams and diagrams, developed his own enigmatic, open-ended vocabulary.

This huge exhibition catches the spirit of this extraordinary man and is on until March 2013.  

Photo credit: Paul Klee, Comedy 1921, Watercolour and oil on paper, 305 x 454 mm. Courtesy of Tate Modern.

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