A post here last year about the Bauhaus exhibition at the Barbican Art Gallery mentioned three painters who had spent time in Weimar and Dessau: Paul Citroën, Wassily Kandinsky and Paul Klee. Searching on Google, I can find no evidence of a recent retrospective of Citroën’s non-photographic work but Kandinsky is widely exhibited (eg currently at the Guggenheim in New York), and Klee almost as much (eg earlier this year in Rome). Nonetheless, a full retrospective is always worth seeing for any artist and The EY Exhibition: Paul Klee – Making Visible at Tate Modern is the first large-scale showing for Klee in London for over 10 years.
seen recently at Dulwich, while his experience of the chaos of postwar Germany reflected in Memorial to the Kaiser (also 1920, below right) shares the viewpoint of his contemporaries like Grosz. Both these works were produced by the oil-transfer method, tracing over painted paper then transferring onto a blank sheet.
Klee joined the staff of the Bauhaus in 1921 at Weimar, moving in 1926 to Dessau. In 1922 in Berlin he encountered Russian constructivism in the form of works by Malevich, Tatlin and others. Klee’s work in his Bauhaus years involved colour investigation in both constructions and imaginative surreal pieces (Pictorial Architecture Red, Yellow, Blue 1923 and Around the Fish 1926, below left and right). In 1930 his work was exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and that year he left the Bauhaus to teach in Dusseldorf. In 1933 Hitler became Chancellor of Germany and within a few months the Bauhaus closed. Klee and his family left for Switzerland in December. In poor health after 1935, he died in 1940, the same year as his father.
Brian Sewell in the London Evening Standard liked the Tate’s catalogue but had reservations about both the exhibition and the artist, as did Andrew Lambirth in the Spectator, although of a different kind. Klee described himself as possessed by colour and since reproductions fail to do justice to the subtlety with which he used it, the opportunity to visit The EY Exhibition: Paul Klee – Making Visible and view source works is worth taking. The exhibition continues until 9 March 2014.