As our AZ series continues, curator Matthew Gale points out a Paul Klee trait that ran throughout his career satire and irony

Earth Witches, Paul Klee, 1938

Earth Witches, Paul Klee, 1938

© Zentrum Paul Klee

Although Klee’s early prints failed to secure him work on the Munich satirical paper Simplicissimus, satire was a mode that persisted throughout his career. It may be seen to re-surface in the ‘oil-transfers’ of 19202, such as Memorial to the Kaiser (whose abdication coincided with the end of the First World War) or the ironic self-portrait Ghost of a Genius. It flavours the humour of Fish Magic 1925 and Puppets 1930. It may even soften the threat of the late paintings of witches, who stand for the nightmarish collapse of European values.

Next week: T is for… titles

The EY Exhibition: Paul Klee: Making Visible is at Tate Modern from 16 October 2013 – 9 March 2014