Exhibition of More Than 60 Paintings and Drawings Travels from Neue Galerie to The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C., and The Menil Collection, Houston
NEW YORK (February 2, 2006)—On March 9, 2006, Neue Galerie New York opens "Klee and America," an exhibition that will address the enthusiastic reception for the artist's works in the United States, especially during the 1930s and 1940s. The exhibition features more than sixty paintings and drawings by Klee, which will be on loan from private and public collections in the United States and abroad. It runs through May 22 at the Neue Galerie, before traveling to The Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C., and The Menil Collection in Houston. The national sponsor of the exhibition is Altria Group, Inc.
Josef Helfenstein, Director of The Menil Collection, is responsible for the concept of the exhibition and co-edited the catalogue with Elizabeth Hutton Turner, Senior Curator at The Phillips Collection.
"The influence of Paul Klee in America has never fully been investigated," noted Helfenstein. "This exhibition seeks to document and analyze the reception and study of Klee, and thereby to restore an influential but often overlooked chapter to the history of modern art."
"The Neue Galerie is pleased to present this exhibition along with our distinguished fellow institutions, The Phillips Collection and The Menil Collection," said Renée Price, Director of the Neue Galerie.
Paul Klee (1879-1940) was by the 1910s one of the leading figures within the European modernist movement. His acclaim in Europe was quickly paralleled in the United States, where both private collectors and major museums sought out his works. Throughout the 1930s and 1940s, Klee's art was pursued in the United States with increasing vigor.
Though Klee gained a foothold in America through exhibition and promotion in the early 1920s, significant critical discourse or context in this country was slow to come. Whereas in Paris, Klee was already celebrated as one of the fathers of Dada and Surrealism, in America he was described by critic Henry McBride in 1924 for the readers of the New York Herald as "that strange meteor from Switzerland." If asked in January 1930, Klee would have predicted with good reason that the future of his success lay in Europe: Rene Crevel had recently published a monograph in France, and many important German museums had begun accessioning important examples of his work. Ironically, just as the American public slowly began to appreciate Klee-demanding greater numbers of his works, and seeking out increasingly important canvases-in Europe his career began to falter. The artist was among those targeted in Hitler's campaign against Entartete Kunst ("degenerate art"). He was removed from his teaching post in 1933, and the market for his work in Germany and Austria collapsed.
More so than any other modern master, the fortunes of Paul Klee parallel America's coming of age in the modern world. Diego Rivera easily recognized an analogous sensibility at once ancient and childlike that united Klee with the New World. Perhaps it was Klee's lack of a single style or the sheer range of his experiments that made him so compelling, as Marcel Duchamp once suggested. Certainly Klee appealed to young Americans wanting to free themselves from the limitations of geometric abstraction and surrealist narrative. Without doubt Klee's cryptic marks-the possibilities he raised concerning almost every type of composition and every formal problem imaginable-had a liberating influence upon the Abstract Expressionist generation of the 1940s and 1950s. Ultimately this was the moment when the audience was with Klee, when they also dared to believe in the universal language of art.
"Klee and America" draws together some of the finest examples of Klee's work that have remained in the United States, loaned from both major museums and private collections. Many of these pieces have rarely, if ever, been seen by the public. The works have been carefully selected for their American provenances, which include major collectors like Katherine Dreier and Walter and Louise Arensberg; artists such as Alexander Calder, Mark Tobey, and Andy Warhol; author Ernest Hemingway; and architects Walter Gropius and Philip Johnson.
This exhibition will be open to the public five days per week: Thursday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Friday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. (Note continued additional open day on Thursday.) Admission is $15 (students and seniors, $10), which includes the use of the audio-tour. Acoustiguide audio tours are sponsored by Altria Group, Inc. Children under 12 are not admitted and those under 16 must be accompanied by an adult.
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