In the run-up to Tate Modern's The EY Exhibition: Paul Klee show, curator Matthew Gale kicks off his intriguing A to Z blog series on the many facets of this modern master. Ladies and gentlemen, here's the first of 26 things you need to know about Paul Klee...

Paul Klee Assyrian game 1923 courtesy Zentrum Paul Klee, Bern
Paul Klee
Assyrian game 1923

Hello there – my name’s Matthew Gale, and over the past three years, I’ve been working on Tate Modern’s upcoming Klee show, now only a month away. As we make the final preparations before installing the show in October, it’s my pleasure to kick off our Paul Klee blog series – what I see as a set of sign-posts to some of the things that make him fascinating.

Paul Klee did many things in many different ways. A great artist, he was also a sympathetic teacher, fine musician, and persuasive writer. His work was diverse. Even paintings and drawings that he was working on at the same time could be very different in style and technique one from the next. The EY Exhibition – Paul Klee: Making Visible at Tate Modern from 16 October is an opportunity to immerse yourself in this extraordinary imagination.

Within all the variety of his output, Klee also liked order. So, in that spirit, we are making an alphabetical listing of some of the things that made him remarkable, and some of the circumstances that contributed to him being one of the most significant artists of the first part of the twentieth century. We will make twenty-six instalments, but there are many more to explore.

Klee in his Weimar Bauhaus studio, 1924. Photograph: Felix Klee, Zentrum Paul Klee, Bern
Klee in his Weimar Bauhaus studio, 1924

Today, A is for…


Paul Klee was ambidextrous. He wrote with his right hand and painted with his left. This means that his watercolours were painted with one hand, but signed and titled with the other. This ability must also have helped, and been maintained, by his gifts as a violinist.

Klee taught at the Bauhaus, the modernist school of art and design between 1921 and 1931. There is a story that he began his first class by avoiding eye-contact with his students, and simply approaching the blackboard and drawing two arcs at the same time with a chalk in either hand. The result magically came together as a fish.

Next up, B is for… Bears (yes, bears). Find out why on the blog next week.

Plus, look out for our beginners’ guide to Bauhaus, coming soon.

Rest of the A–Z of Paul Klee


Curious to know what "EY" means in the context of the exhibition.

It is of the salt I wonder about in his water colours. The world needed klee in man ways. It is beyond belief at times of the struggles of such noted gifts .... The presumption of the uses of his exuberance which often attracts flocks of koupertles that clearly have the needs of experiential learning that they reach for. And often eventually find there is something they have gained to express as well in such inquisitions of short important times. I believe that Klee never used salt on his paper or canvas do detract the oxides in outward and sparse direction as he realized it would more quickly break down the surfaces. Unlike the hint of the salt use on eggs around the globe.

Because the papers were often wood pulps or cotton, which is plant cellular structure and not eggs or human cells, the salt puffs the surfaces and and tears at the nap of paper or canvas. Klee was brilliant in his own studies of much more than simply paintings over a couch or to accompany him in any given room.

Outlandish and monumental finishes with subtle tones. Though I understand amber was not his favorite quality in the breathe of his work.

Upon reading the numerous writings about Klee, and even viewing his glorious paintings in a book or even in a reproduction photographed image on a scene, could not possibly represent the lovely tones, and textures and eminent movements within the actual paintings studied in person.