I like Klee!

by Sibylle Nussbaum 

My learned friend Maria, who is an art historian and the Features Editor of our website, wrote a review of the Klee Exhibition at the National Gallery and came to the conclusion that she doesn’t really like Klee.


To provide a quick biography, Klee was a Swiss artist who lived from 1879 – 1940, was a member of the "Blaue Reiter“ Expressionist art group and taught at the famous "Bauhaus“ school for ten years. Klee was talented in music as well as art and considered both as a career. Even after choosing the latter, he continued to play the violin, often together with his wife Lily, who was a pianist. 


I feel compelled to write a rebuttal to Maria’s review because I have liked him since I was a young girl.  And I think you deserve another opinion. He appealed to me on an emotional and aesthetic level. I didn’t feel the need to understand him and I didn’t learn about his significance until later. Since then, however, I have come to appreciate that the genius of Klee is not just in the beauty of his artwork, but in the connections he made between art and meaning. 


As an example, his 2008 Berlin exhibit, called The Klee Universe showed his work as a lifecycle of man from birth, childhood, sexual love and parental role to death. In all of these stages of life, Klee’s artwork references music, theatre as well as the world around him – nature, plants and animals. As a viewer, I was taken not just by the art but in its ability to speak to everyday life and the connections between art and his other cultural passions.  My only regret was not buying the catalogue at the time as it is unfortunately out of print!

 Temple Garden by Paul Klee


Also worthy of mention in appreciating Klee’s work is his interest and connection to religion. Sartre called him “an angel who recreates the miracles of the world.” What better talent as an artist than to invite the viewer of his varied and diverse artwork to consider the divine! 


“Art does not reproduce the visible, rather it makes visible,” is a quote of his, and with that in mind, you can let your imagination roam, let his art speak to you and be open to discover a depth of feeling you might not expect. Enjoy the exhibit and then let us know whose side you fall on in the great Village Echo Klee debate!