“Colour and I are one. I am a painter. ”
First Klee exhibition in Canada since 1979
Featuring 75 works from The Metropolitan Museum of Art
For the first time in almost four decades, the National Gallery of Canada presents an exhibition devoted to Swiss-German artist Paul Klee (1879-1940), a giant of twentieth-century art. Famed for his innovation and creativity, Klee’s name is now synonymous with those of other modern masters including Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, and his colleague and friend, Wassily Kandinsky. The exhibition, Paul Klee: The Berggruen Collection from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, on view at the Gallery until March 17, 2019, encompasses all aspects of his prolific career, as both a draftsman and painter.
“Paul Klee created a body of work that is unparalleled in imagination and skill,” said Anabelle Kienle Poňka, Acting Senior Curator of European and American Art, National Gallery of Canada. “This exhibition allows us to explore Klee’s humorous and whimsical world, discovering that beneath its apparent simplicity lies a complex, subtle and deeply humanist perspective on life.”
Paul Klee: The Berggruen Collection from The Metropolitan Museum of Art features 75 drawings, watercolours and paintings that were donated to the MET in 1984 by Heinz Berggruen, a prominent art dealer and collector. These works provide a comprehensive survey of the artist’s career. The exhibition opens with Klee’s vibrant watercolours from his journey to Tunisia in 1914 where he found himself as an artist. His time spent as a teacher at the Bauhaus - a progressive school for Modernist design - from 1921 to 1931, is comprehensively represented in the show. In the 1930s, Klee was branded a “degenerate artist” by the Nazis and forced out of his teaching position in Germany and later into exile in Switzerland, a period of great trial, which is reflected in extraordinary works toward the end of the exhibition.
Klee, the son of a Swiss singer and German music teacher, and an accomplished violinist in his own right, saw analogies between music and visual art. He also admired children’s art and tried to bring a similar directness and spontaneity to his work. In a nod to these two major themes, the Gallery has included a final room, where tactile exploration is encouraged. Visitors of all ages are invited to construct large-scale wall paintings and free-standing creations by manipulating two- and three-dimensional shapes inspired by the artist’s works and colour palette. Immersed in Paul Klee’s world, visitors are welcome to photograph their creations and post them on social media using the hashtag #PlayInKlee which also functions as a mnemonic device for the pronunciation of the artist’s name (Klee rhymes with “play”).Visitors can also enjoy a selection of music by some of Klee’s favorite composers, at a special listening station at the end of the exhibition.
Paul Klee: The Berggruen Collection from The Metropolitan Museum of Art is organized by The Metropolitan Museum of Art, in association with the National Gallery of Canada. Several activities have been programmed to compliment the show. For the first time, the Gallery has created “kinder labels”, descriptive text on selected artworks for children.
Meet the expert
On November 17th from 1:30 pm to 2:30 pm visitors are invited to join Anabelle Kienle Poňka, the Gallery’s Acting Senior Curator of European and American Art, for an insider’s look at the largest collection of Klee works in North America at this time. The activity will be in English with bilingual question period. In the Special Exhibitions Galleries. Included with admission to the Gallery. To find out more.
Join us Thursday, November 15 from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm in the Special Exhibitions Galleries for the member preview of Paul Klee: The Berggruen Collection from The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Explore the work of one of the most inventive artists of the twentieth century. The exhibition, a Canadian first in nearly four decades, encompasses all aspects of Paul Klee’s prolific career.
Ask the curator
Members of the public are invited to submit their questions to the exhibition’s curator, Anabelle Kienle Poňka. Simply visit The Gallery’s YouTube channel and post your questions in the Comments Section.
Lectures and Talks
Join the conversation with art historian and curator Olivier Berggruen — son of distinguished collector Heinz Berggruen — and Anabelle Kienle Poňka, the Gallery’s Acting Senior Curator of European and American Art as both talk about their passion for Klee, and about individual works in the exhibition. This conversation will take place in English with a bilingual question period, Thursday, November 29, 2018 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm in the Auditorium. Simultaneous French interpretation is available, if a request is made to [email protected] before November 22, 2018. Free admission.
Hours of operation
Until April 30, 2019, the Gallery is open Tuesdays to Sundays from 10 am to 5 pm, and on Thursdays from 10 am to 8 pm. Holiday exceptions apply, and hours are subject to change without notice. For more information, visit gallery.ca.
Tickets: $15 (adults); $13 (seniors); $7 (age 24 and under and full-time students); $30 (families: two adults and three youth, 17 and under). Admission is free for children under the age of 11 and for Members. Includes admission to the national collection, and all exhibitions. Free admission on Thursdays from 5 pm to 8 pm. To find out more.
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About the National Gallery of Canada
The National Gallery of Canada is home to the most important collections of historical and contemporary Canadian art. The Gallery also maintains Canada’s premier collection of European Art from the 14th to the 21st centuries, as well as important works of American, Asian and Indigenous Art and renowned international collections of prints, drawings and photographs. In 2015, the National Gallery of Canada established the Canadian Photography Institute, a global multidisciplinary research center dedicated to the history, evolution and future of photography. Created in 1880, the National Gallery of Canada has played a key role in Canadian culture for well over a century. Among its principal missions is to increase access to excellent works of art for all Canadians. For more information, visit gallery.ca and follow us on Twitter @NatGalleryCan
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