| From 1933 to 1940, Paul Klee created a diverse late work that is among the
most significant in all of modern art. The Fondation Beyeler is presenting
a large special exhibition that provides a comprehensive review of this
dramatic final phase of the artist’s career.
Point of departure is the year of the National Socialist takeover of power
in Germany. In April 1933, Klee was suspended without further notice from
his post at the Düsseldorf Academy, where he had been teaching since
1931. That December he emigrated to Bern, Switzerland, where he had spent
his youth. These profound changes in the circumstances of his life had a
lasting effect on Klee’s art. From 1933 onwards his work was overshadowed
by the Nazi threat to European culture and its avant-gardes. This situation
was exacerbated by a private tragedy in 1935-36, when Klee was diagnosed
with an incurable disease. Its outbreak marked the beginning of the late
work in the narrower sense. During the four last years of his life, 1937
to 1940, Klee’s work experienced a final concentration and concision,
in that renowned late style built on contrasts between luminous areas of
color and black linear scaffolding. Our exhibition, comprising over 100
works – primarily paintings and colored works on paper – presents
major examples of this final period in Klee’s creative life. These
are works suffused with joy, irony and a sense of tragedy behind which an
insight into the ultimate questions shines through.
The exhibition has been prepared in collaboration with the Sprengel Museum,
Hanover, where it will be on view from 23 November 2003 to 15 February 2004.
It represents the first comprehensive review since 1990 of the final years
of creative activity of that great magician of the picture plane, Paul Klee.
The catalogue is
published in a bilingual edition (German and English) by Benteli Verlag,
Bern. It includes essays by Matthias Bärmann, Ernst Beyeler and Ulrich
Krempel, as well as a chronology by Stefan Frey. Approx. 200 pages with
approx. 100 full-color illustrations (CHF 49.00).