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Zentrum Paul Klee brings together 85 depictions of angels in Klee's work for new exhibition
Oscar-winning director Roman Polanski walks past Paul Klee's painting "Untitiled (Angel of death)" at the Gala de Berne to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the first James Bond movie at the Zentrum Paul Klee on November 3, 2012. Swiss Hollywood film star Ursula Andress was the original "Bond Girl," becoming famous for her role as Honey Rider alongside Sean Connery in the first ever James Bond film, "Dr. No." AFP PHOTO / FABRICE COFFRINI.
BERN.- Paul Klee’s angels are back! For the first time, the Zentrum Paul Klee has been able to bring together 85 of a total of about 100 depictions of angels in Klee’s work. Even the world-famous Angelus Novus, which was owned by Walter Benjamin, is finding a home in the Zentrum Paul Klee for 40 days. Today, Klee’s angels are among the artist’s best-loved works. Not only do they speak to art lovers, but they have also won great popularity as poetic counsellors.

The exhibition «Klee’s Angels» is bringing together Paul Klee’s depictions of angels in a unique concentration. They are joined by a few diabolical companions from his oeuvre. 60 of these works are in the collection of the Zentrum Paul Klee. Most of the depictions of angels were produced in the final years of Klee’s life (1938–1940). Alongside this core stock there are some earlier examples, such as Klee’s childhood drawing Christmas angel with yellow wings (1885) or the famous Angelus novus (1920) from the collection of the Israel Museum, probably Paul Klee’s most legendary work and at the same time one of the most famous paintings from the art of the 20th century.

Winged hybrids, half human, half celestial messenger, they represent a transitional form between terrestrial and transcendental, other-worldly existence, which satisfies both modern scepticism and the need for spirituality. They are not perfect celestial beings, however, their beauty also has little flaws, they are forgetful or hateful, anxious or prankish. In some images they come close to devil figures, they are called Lucifer, Mephisto or «Chindlifrässer» (child-eater), and originate in Christian ideas as well as mythology, literature and popular theatre.

Alongside the central presentation of the Klee angels, the Zentrum Paul Klee has also installed a secondary part to the exhibition, devoted to the motif of the angel in photography, film and video art and installation. The twelve rooms, most of them monographic in nature, span the period from the 1910s until the present day – the time of Klee’s earliest angels until now. They include some key works in these media from Charlie Chaplin’s The Kid (1921), Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau’s Faust (1926) or Wim Wenders’ Der Himmel über Berlin (Wings of Desire, 1987), via contemporary video artists like Mark Wallinger and Eija-Liisa Ahtila, to photographs by artists such as Francesca Woodman, Duane Michals and Pierre et Gilles.

The reason for the restriction of this «satellite exhibition» to photography, film and video lies on the one hand in the desire to differentiate these works from drawn or painted works by Paul Klee. On the other, these media, which supposedly reproduce reality, are particularly well suited to operate pictorially in the border area between being and seeming.

An exhibition based on an idea of Christine Hopfengart, curated by Eva Wiederkehr Sladeczek (Klee angels) and Peter Fischer (photography, film and video section). The exhibition will travel (without the photography, film and video part) after the Bern Premiere, to the Folkwang Museum in Essen (01.02.– 14.04.2013) and the Hamburger Kunsthalle (26.04.–07.07.2013).

Today's News

November 5, 2012

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