Paul Klee’s angels number amongst the artist’s most popular works. They not only appeal to art lovers but have also gained huge popularity as poetic guardians. As winged hybrids, half man, half celestial messenger, they represent a transitional form between earthly and heavenly existence, which serves our need for spirituality. Yet at the same time angels reflect the modern skepticism towards religion and questions of faith. In addition, they offer art historians, authors, philosophers, theologians as well as psychologists intellectual starting points.
Klee produced most of his angels in the final years of his life, between 1938 and 1940. As such, the drawings, watercolors and paintings are also an expression of his situation at the time, characterized as it was by serious illness and open animosity from the Nazis. They give an impression of how Klee felt, at the transition between life and death. They show fear and threat, but also intellectual detachment, wit and humor. Klee’s angels are still largely rooted in human existence, and this is the deeper reason for their popularity. They have minor weaknesses and flaws, are forgetful or ugly, full or worries or playful, meaning that everyone can recognize him- or herself in them. Stylistically, these are characteristic examples of the minimalist drawing style found in Paul Klee’s late work.
This is the first exhibition to focus on this unusual group within Paul Klee’s highly diverse oeuvre, and with around 80 drawings, watercolors, gouaches and paintings presents the majority of his surviving works on this subject.
In collaboration with the Paul Klee Center, Bern
Made possible through the kind support of Sparkasse Essen