Synopses & Reviews
There are artists whose metier is the observation or documentation of the world, and artists who set the world aside altogether to build their own visionary cosmology, designing its constituent parts from scratch as a personal mythology relayed in motifs. Paul Klee (1879-1940) was such an artist, as his aphorism Art does not reproduce the visible, rather it makes visible testifies, and The Klee Universe addresses his work from this perspective. In 1906, Klee noted in his diary, All will be Klee, and in 1911, as the encyclopedist of his cosmos, he began to meticulously chronicle his works in a catalogue that, by the time he died, was to contain more than 9,000 items. Here, in the fashion of an Orbis Pictus or a Renaissance emblem book, Klee's oeuvre is made legible as a cogent entirety, in thematic units address: the human life cycle, from birth and childhood to sexual desire, parenthood and death; music, architecture, theater and religion; plants, animals and landscapes; and, finally, darker, destructive forces in the shape of war, fear and death. The Klee Universe reimagines the artist as a Renaissance man, an artist of great learning whose cosmos proves to be a coherent system of ideas and images.
Paul Klee (1879-1940) was born and died in Switzerland, though he never obtained Swiss citizenship. Technically of German nationality, he taught at the Bauhaus from 1921 to 1926, alongside Wassily Kandinsky, Franz Marc and others. Seventeen of his works were included in the Nazi's infamous 1937 Munich exhibition of degenerate art.
Edited by Dieter Scholz, Christina Thomson. Text by Christine Hopfengart, Olivier Berggruen, Peter-Klaus Schuster.