For the first time in almost four decades, the National Gallery of Canada
presents an exhibition devoted to Swiss-German artist Paul Klee (1879-1940), a giant of twentieth-century art. Famed for his innovation and creativity, Klees name is now synonymous with those of other modern masters including Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, and his colleague and friend, Wassily Kandinsky. The exhibition, Paul Klee: The Berggruen Collection from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, on view at the Gallery until March 17, 2019, encompasses all aspects of his prolific career, as both a draftsman and painter.
Paul Klee created a body of work that is unparalleled in imagination and skill, said Anabelle Kienle Poňka, Acting Senior Curator of European and American Art, National Gallery of Canada. This exhibition allows us to explore Klees humorous and whimsical world, discovering that beneath its apparent simplicity lies a complex, subtle and deeply humanist perspective on life.
Paul Klee: The Berggruen Collection from The Metropolitan Museum of Art features 75 drawings, watercolours and paintings that were donated to the MET in 1984 by Heinz Berggruen, a prominent art dealer and collector. These works provide a comprehensive survey of the artists career. The exhibition opens with Klees vibrant watercolours from his journey to Tunisia in 1914 where he found himself as an artist. His time spent as a teacher at the Bauhaus - a progressive school for Modernist design - from 1921 to 1931, is comprehensively represented in the show. In the 1930s, Klee was branded a degenerate artist by the Nazis and forced out of his teaching position in Germany and later into exile in Switzerland, a period of great trial, which is reflected in extraordinary works toward the end of the exhibition.
Klee, the son of a Swiss singer and German music teacher, and an accomplished violinist in his own right, saw analogies between music and visual art. He also admired childrens art and tried to bring a similar directness and spontaneity to his work. In a nod to these two major themes, the Gallery has included a final room, where tactile exploration is encouraged. Visitors of all ages are invited to construct large-scale wall paintings and free-standing creations by manipulating two- and three-dimensional shapes inspired by the artists works and colour palette. Immersed in Paul Klees world, visitors are welcome to photograph their creations and post them on social media using the hashtag #PlayInKlee which also functions as a mnemonic device for the pronunciation of the artists name (Klee rhymes with play).Visitors can also enjoy a selection of music by some of Klees favorite composers, at a special listening station at the end of the exhibition.
Paul Klee: The Berggruen Collection from The Metropolitan Museum of Art is organized by The Metropolitan Museum of Art, in association with the National Gallery of Canada. Several activities have been programmed to compliment the show. For the first time, the Gallery has created kinder labels, descriptive text on selected artworks for children.