An installation view of the exhibition titled Paul Klee: Late Klee, at David Zwirner, London, in 2020.

Paul Klee

Late Klee

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David Zwirner is pleased to present Late Klee, the gallery’s second solo exhibition of Paul Klee’s (1879–1940) work since announcing its exclusive collaboration with the Klee Family. On view at the gallery’s London location, the exhibition will explore the diverse visual and formal styles of Klee’s art from the early 1930s until his death, in 1940.

In 1931, Klee left the Bauhaus, where he had taught and worked since 1921, moving to Düsseldorf to serve as a professor at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf. Toward the end of 1933, in response to the suppression of avant-garde art practices by the newly empowered Nazi party, Klee left Germany, where he had primarily lived since 1906, and returned to his native city of Bern, Switzerland, residing there for the remainder of his life. From 1935 onward, Klee continually struggled with illness, which at times impacted his ability to work. During this period, against the backdrop of immense sociopolitical turmoil and the outbreak of World War II, Klee worked with a vigour and inventiveness that at times rivalled even the most productive periods from his youth. 

 

 

The works on view in Late Klee highlight the diversity of Klee’s visual practice during this period. The play of line is evident in a series of graphic works that are often highly diaristic and personal. His skill as a colourist is presented through entirely abstract compositions as well as figurative pieces depicting mask-like faces. Ranging in subject matter and style, the works all testify to Klee’s restless drive to experiment with his forms and materials, which included adhesives, grease, oil, chalk, and watercolour, resulting in surfaces that are not only visually striking, but also highly tactile and original. 

The range of works on display also speak to how Klee’s late period informed the art of subsequent generations of postwar artists, ranging from Anni Albers and Mark Tobey to Bridget Riley and Richard Tuttle, among countless others.  

 

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Image: Installation view, Paul Klee: Late Klee, David Zwirner, London, 2020
Dates
March 6July 31, 2020
Private View
Thursday, March 5, 6–8 PM
Artist
A photo of Paul Klee's studio in Bern, dated 1940.
Paul Klee's studio in Bern, 1940
Paul Klee's studio in Bern, 1940
“Like only Matisse and Picasso among modern artists,” Matthias Bärmann writes in Paul Klee: Erfüllung im Spätwerk (2003), “Klee created a late work of singular rank.”
In his late period, Klee’s unique aesthetic world—one in which, as he famously said, “art does not reproduce the visible; rather it makes visible”—evolved and developed.
A photo of Paul Klee painting, dated 1938.
Paul Klee in his studio, Bern, April 1928. © Klee-Nachlassverwaltung, Hinterkappelen
Paul Klee in his studio, Bern, April 1928. © Klee-Nachlassverwaltung, Hinterkappelen
A work on paper by Paul Klee, titled Folter (Torture), dated 1938.

Paul Klee

Folter (Torture), 1938
Colored paste and watercolor on primer and cardboard
11 3/4 x 10 5/8 inches (30 x 27 cm)
Framed: 18 3/8 x 17 3/8 inches (46.6 x 44.2 cm)
Paul Klee Work No. 1938, 487 (C 7)
“Many of Klee’s later paintings, like most of the earlier ones, have ‘literary’ titles. But the title is never a frame to the content, only its point of departure…. the content is never a single object or emotion or idea.”
“One of the most intriguing of the 1938 drawings in this exhibition is Schleusen, which translates as sluice gates or locks.... It reminds us of the operations of duality in Klee’s thinking and practice: expansion-concentration, rarefaction-condensation, contraction and relaxation, exterior-interior.”
A drawing by Paul Klee, titled Schleusen (Locks), dated 1938.

Paul Klee

Schleusen (Locks), 1938
Grease crayon on paper on cardboard
Sheet: 3 5/8 x 15 3/8 inches (9.2 x 38.9 cm)
Cardboard: 19 1/8 x 27 1/2 inches (48.5 x 70 cm)
Framed: 21 1/4 x 29 1/2 inches (54 x 74.9 cm)
Paul Klee Work No. 1938, 186 (M 6)
A work on paper by Paul Klee, titled Masken Im Zwielicht (Masks at twilight), dated 1938.

Paul Klee

Masken Im Zwielicht (Masks at twilight), 1938
Coloured paste on cardboard on second cardboard
19 x 13 5/8 inches (48.3 x 34.7 cm)
Framed: 23 x 17 3/4 inches (58.5 x 45 cm)
Paul Klee Work No. 1938, 486 (C 6)
“Movement in the process of ‘form-creation’ was a constant preoccupation of Klee’s, including all aspects of movement—both that of the object in question, and also that of the ‘reading eye.’”
“Klee’s drawings were very rarely mere sketches or studies for a painting...The numerous single-line drawings...characteristic of this period, show no loss of control; to the contrary, the pencil line is precise, clear and unwavering, the outlines playing a complex game of just touching or not touching each other.”
A work on paper by Paul Klee, titled neu gerichtet (Newly adjusted), dated 1939.

Paul Klee

neu gerichtet (Newly adjusted), 1939
Chalk on paper on cardboard

Sheet: 8 1/4 x 11 3/4 inches (20.9 x 29.7 cm)
Cardboard: 13 3/4 x 19 5/8 inches (35 x 50 cm)
Framed: 16 x 21 7/8 inches (40.6 x 55.6 cm)

Paul Klee Work No. 1939, 38 (G 18)
A drawing by Paul Klee, titled Zwei Dürstende (Two thirsty people), dated 1940.

Paul Klee

Zwei Dürstende (Two thirsty people), 1940
Colored paste and pen on paper on cardboard
Sheet: 17 3/8 x 17 3/8 inches (44 x 44 cm)
Cardboard: 18 7/8 x 22 1/2 inches (48 x 57 cm)
Framed: 21 1/8 x 24 7/8 inches (53.7 x 63.2 cm)
Paul Klee Work No. 1940, 268 (L 8)
“One of the strangest of his late paintings, Two Thirsty People...picks up a kind of hidden theme: eyes. The two pairs of eyes in Two Thirsty People pick up a succession of “eyes” in the works of these years, which appear variously in masks, in the landscape and transformed as metaphor in Fish-Gaze, where the eye-oval becomes a fish.”
 “Klee’s art is so unique because he can make a complete composition out of accidents, of oddities, which neither obeys the Renaissance nor the classical models....Every work is both fragment and whole.”

Unless otherwise attributed, the quotes above are excerpted from “Paul Klee’s Late Work”, an essay by Dawn Ades in the
forthcoming David Zwirner Books publication Paul Klee: 1939.

A work on paper by Paul Klee, titled Schnecken-Wege (Snail paths), dated 1937.

Paul Klee

Schnecken-Wege (Snail paths), 1937
Colored paste on paper on cardboard
Sheet: 11 1/8 x 7 inches (28.1 x 17.9 cm)
Cardboard: 19 5/8 x 13 3/4 inches (50 x 35 cm)
Framed: 21 7/8 x 15 7/8 inches (55.6 x 40.3 cm)
A work on paper by Paul Klee, titled Ereignis im Park (Event in the park), dated 1937.

Paul Klee

Ereignis im Park (Event in the park), 1937
Tempera and chalk on paper on cardboard
Sheet: 10 5/8 x 8 1/4 inches (27 x 21 cm)
Cardboard: 19 5/8 x 13 3/4 inches (50 x 35 cm)
Framed: 21 5/8 x 15 3/4 inches (54.9 x 40.0 cm)
A drawing by Paul Klee, titled reconstruierte Scherben (Reconstructed shards), dated 1939.

Paul Klee

reconstruierte Scherben (Reconstructed shards), 1939
Colored paste and watercolor on paper on cardboard
Sheet: 11 x 6 7/8-6 3/4 inches (28 x 17.5/17.1 cm) Cardboard: 18 1/4 x 13 3/4 inches (46.5 x 35 cm) Framed: 22 3/4 x 16 7/8 inches (57.8 x 42.9 cm) Paul Klee Work No. 1939, 101 (L 1)
A drawing by Paul Klee, titled Schleusen (Locks), dated 1938.

Paul Klee

Schleusen (Locks), 1938
Grease crayon on paper on cardboard
Sheet: 3 5/8 x 15 3/8 inches (9.2 x 38.9 cm)
Cardboard: 19 1/8 x 27 1/2 inches (48.5 x 70 cm)
Framed: 21 1/4 x 29 1/2 inches (54 x 74.9 cm)
Paul Klee Work No. 1938, 186 (M 6)
A work on paper by Paul Klee, titled erzwungener Ausweg (Forced way out), dated 1934.

Paul Klee

erzwungener Ausweg (Forced way out), 1934
Red chalk and pencil on paper on cardboard
Sheet: 16 1/2-16 5/8 x 12 3/8-13 1/2 inches (41.8/42.2 x 31.4/34.2 cm)
Cardboard: 27 1/8 x 18 3/4 inches (68.8 x 47.5 cm)
Framed: 29 1/4 x 21 inches (74.3 x 53.3 cm)
A charcoal and oil work on paper by Paul Klee, titled Spiegel in der Landschaft (Mirror in the landscape), dated 1937.

Paul Klee

Spiegel in der Landschaft (Mirror in the landscape), 1937
Charcoal and oil on paper on cardboard
Sheet: 7 x 10 7/8 inches (17.9 x 27.9 cm)
Cardboard: 13 3/4 x 19 1/4 inches (35 x 49 cm)
Framed: 15 7/8 x 21 3/8 x 1 1/2 inches (40.3 x 54.3 x 3.8 cm)
A work on paper by Paul Klee, titled neu gerichtet (Newly adjusted), dated 1939.

Paul Klee

neu gerichtet (Newly adjusted), 1939
Chalk on paper on cardboard

Sheet: 8 1/4 x 11 3/4 inches (20.9 x 29.7 cm)
Cardboard: 13 3/4 x 19 5/8 inches (35 x 50 cm)
Framed: 16 x 21 7/8 inches (40.6 x 55.6 cm)

Paul Klee Work No. 1939, 38 (G 18)
A work on paper by Paul Klee, titled Clown als Knabe (Clown as a boy), dated 1940.

Paul Klee

Clown als Knabe (Clown as a boy), 1940
Grease crayon on paper on cardboard
Sheet: 8 1/4 x 11 5/8 inches (21 x 29.6 cm)
Cardboard: 13 3/4 x 19 1/2 inches (35 x 49.5 cm)
Framed: 16 x 20 1/4 inches (40.6 x 51.4 cm)
A work on paper by Paul Klee, titled Rinden cultur (Bark culture), dated 1935.

Paul Klee

Rinden cultur (Bark culture), 1935
Colored paste on paper on cardboard
Sheet: 10 7/8 x 7 inches (27.8 x 17.9 cm)
Cardboard: 17 7/8 x 11 5/8 inches (45.5 x 29.5 cm)
Framed: 20 x 13 5/8 inches (50.8 x 34.6 cm)

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