In this week’s instalment of our curator’s A–Z series, Matthew Gale looks at how Paul Klee was regarded once he made his name - and with whom he was inevitably compared
The Czech writer Karel Teige remarked on the impossibility of describing Klee’s paintings, concluding: We can merely say that, together with the works of Picasso and de Chirico, they represent the most poetic values of contemporary art. In 1934, another reviewer suggested: Both Klee and Picasso stand, as it were, on the very edge of consciousness … eager to catch a glimpse of the ultimate frame of existence.
Perhaps the greatest impact of Klee’s work came soon after his death, when the scope of his production was revealed in memorial exhibitions. A realisation emerges, perhaps a little unexpectedly, wrote the New York critic, Sidney Janis, in 1944, [that] if there is any artist after Picasso, the character of whose work runs through twentieth-century American painting … like a recurring theme, it is Klee.
Next week: S is for… Satire
The EY Exhibition: Paul Klee: Making Visible is at Tate Modern from 16 October 2013 – 9 March 2014
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