Paul Klee – Making Visible at Tate Modern

15 March 2014 § Leave a comment

“I want to be as though new born, knowing nothing about Europe, nothing, no pictures, entirely without impulses, almost in an original state”. Paul Klee 1902.

Klee was one of the last century’s deepest thinkers about artistic theory, the above early diary entry perhaps presenting his initial starting point. Anybody who has tried to read – or rather ‘plough through’ – any of his writings will know how much complex thought he has invested in to his art.


I here say ‘plough through’ advisedly since his writings are more like complex scientific text books that essays on art thinking. Illustrated with innumerable diagrams, sketches and graphs they present new ways of thinking about the creation of art, largely developed during his periods of Bauhaus teaching.

Greeting 1922 Paul Klee

His Pedagogical Sketchbook for example begins with thirty pages of closely reasoned text on the significance of ‘the dot’ before apologising for brevity and moving on to ‘the line’. The published ‘notebooks’ of his thoughts and writings whilst at the Bauhaus exceed a thousand pages and feature headings like ‘The concept of analysis’ and ‘Corporeo-spatial tensions’. Every aspect of image making is pored over, analysed and scientifically dissected.

Paul Klee Tate Modern, London

One might think that somebody who analyses art so deeply would be far too ‘bogged down’ in theory that they would find it all but impossible to produce any appealing art. Surprisingly though this show at the Tate proves the opposite. This deep thinking stimulated him into production of a wide variety of interesting work within relatively short time bands.


The Tate’s chronological approach successfully shows the twists and turns of his style as well as his great early confidence. From the start, despite unfavourable reviews from his first solo show, he was already precisely numbering and cataloguing each work. A Constructivist period leads in to his time with the Blaue Reiter (Blue Rider) group, where the influence of Kandinsky is strongly visible. Cezanne, Bracque, Picasso, Matisse and especially Delaunay were further influences before Klee threw himself in to a decade of teaching at the Bauhaus.

Klee - They're Biting 1920

The exhibition repeatedly surprises as successive rooms show the depth of his talent. Oil, watercolour or oil-transfer are given equal prominence and plenty of space to shine. An early realisation that there is much more to Klee than you thought you knew leads to an acceptance that this really is a master of modern art. Repeated innovation, prodigious in production and immensely talented a relatively early death in 1940 surely deprived the world of much, much more.

Paul Klee Making Visible is at Tate Modern until 9 March 2014

monika grzymala – raumzeichnung at sumarrialunn

18 October 2011 § 1 Comment

Monika Grzymala has taken over the small subterranean space of Sumarrialunn with one of her signature installations of sticky tape. Lying somewhere between architecture and drawing her works re-articulate the spaces that they inhabit forcing a fresh assessment. Essentially they are line drawings that leap from wall to three-dimensional space and back again. Here, using black tape, the parallel with pencil or ink sketches is clear as is the literal enaction of Paul Klee‘s phrase ‘a line is a point taken for a walk.’

Monika Grzymala at The Drawing Room

Her works are always site specific and only recorded permanently through photography. They are also created using relatively light-weight material, the tape sagging and disintegrating during the exhibition, a process which Grzymala relates to the body in its gradual deterioration and ageing.

Since each work responds to the local environment they are delightfully varied. Last year at the drawing room a delicately tumbling web of white tape drifted through the room, whilst here the bolder black tape ties the structural central to one of the gallery sides creating both a wall of tape and an extra space. Unfortunately no photos allowed so images here are other exhibitions  – the second gives a good approximation!

On sale alongside the exhibition are limited edition signed prints of the exhibition and one (perhaps more?) unique works of tape on semi-transparent tracing paper. This is an excellent small exhibition from an internationally famous artist who has exhibited in exalted venues like Moma in New York. Her work is not available to see very often and you should try to see it whilst you can – well worth a detour from the Haunch of Venison around the corner.

at Sumarrialunn Gallery Until Friday 4 November 2011

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