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Cult of the Artist: The Klee Universe

31.10.2008 to 08.02.2009

Neue Nationalgalerie
Neue Nationalgalerie

A National Gallery Exhibition, made possible by the Friends of the National Gallery, supported by E.ON

Paul Klee, one of the most important artists of the 20th century, was the creator of a highly individual yet at once universal pictorial language. As early as 1901, he knew that he wanted to "become a good artist." And by 1906 he noted in his diary: "All will be Klee." In strategic pursuit of these aims, in 1911 Klee began to meticulously chronicle his works in a catalogue. By the time he died, this was to contain over 9000 items.

The Nationalgalerie has now dedicated a major exhibition to Paul Klee, inviting you to embark on a journey through the fascinating Klee Universe. Embracing all stages of his creative development, the exhibition brings to life the visionary-poetic world of Klee's art in all its thematic facets, illuminating the unique way in which the artist fused the abstract and the figurative.

A central room of the exhibition looks at the analysis of Paul Klee's relationship with ten of the most important artists of his time, among them Ensor, van Gogh, Kubin, Kandinsky, Marc, and Picasso. In the surrounding exhibition space, 'The Klee Universe' unfolds. In the manner of a Baroque emblem book, the exhibition covers the aspects of life which Klee, in his capacity as the encyclopaedist of an entire cosmos, chose to capture in his art. Klee's universe is centred around the human individual. Birth, childhood and youth are as much part of this as Eros and the world of mothers and fathers. Sections on interiors and architecture take a look at forms and objects created by man; while nature appears in images of plants, animals, and landscapes. Culture is expressed in music, theatre, script, and religion. Finally, dark and destructive forces appear in the shape of war, fear, and death. Klee's cosmos proves a universal cycle of ideas and images, an Orbis Pictus, through which the artist seeks to grasp, interpret and encrypt the world all at the same time.

With 'The Klee Universe', comprising some 250 works, the Nationalgalerie undertakes the first comprehensive Klee retrospective in Berlin since the exhibition of his work at the Kronprinzenpalais exactly 85 years ago.

The Klee Universe
Edited by Dieter Scholz, Christina Thomson, texts by Olivier Berggruen, Anke Daemgen, Christine Hopfengart, Dieter Scholz, Peter-Klaus Schuster, Christina Thomson, Otto Karl Werckmeister
Hatje Cantz Verlag
2008. 368 pp., 377 ills., 299 in color
25,50 x 30,10 cm
ISBN 978-3-7757-2273-5
Prize: Euro 39,90