Curator Matthew Gale investigates another classic Paul Klee-ism, a trait typical of the meticulous, methodical artist - his life-long love of listing all of his artistic endeavours in an ‘oeuvre catalogue’

Paul Klee in his studio at Weimar Bauhaus, photographed by Felix Klee, 1925

Paul Klee in his studio at Weimar Bauhaus, photographed by Felix Klee, 1925
© Zentrum Paul Klee

Paul Klee began to list his works in his so-called ‘oeuvre catalogue’ in 1911. Each work had the year and a number, with these being inscribed on the front of drawings and watercolours alongside the title. He kept up the listing until the end of his life. As well as the allotted number, he kept a record of the technique and any sales.

In the earliest catalogue volumes sales are extraordinarily scarce. Even after he began to show regularly in Berlin and Munich, his productivity outstretched his circle of admirers. As well as revealing a highly systematic approach to monitoring his own work, Klee’s oeuvre catalogue offers an idea of sequences of paintings made alongside each other in the studio and shown alongside each other in his exhibitions.

The EY Exhibition: Paul Klee: Making Visible is at Tate Modern until 9 March 2014