“The Irony of Work” (“L’ironie a l’oeuvre) is the perfect title for the summer blockbuster at the Centre George Pompidou in Paris.
The hottest show in town (literally) lines stretched around the block …I myself, fearless correspondent for Art-Antiques-Design, had to wait an entire 5 minutes before the obligatory bag check.
Not a place for those with vertigo, the exhibition is at the top of the Centre Pompidou, where you have to scoot past the endless queque of selfie-takers to get anywhere near the art. Happily, le Georges, that spiffy restaurant run by the Coste group, is also at the top, so there was time for a refreshing beverage (rhymes with champagne) before entering.
Everybody has seen works by Klee (1879-1940), reproduced endlessly in trivets and coasters and calendars. This exhibition will entirely change your mind about his work – I promise. He was ironic and playful by turns, and incredibly prolific, creating over 10,000 works, in all kinds of mediums. Works you think you know? Think again. Pictures you may have seen the size of your computer screen – it’s really 3 x 5 in, rendered delicately in pencil.
His artistic dialogues with groups as diverse as the expressionists, cubists and surrealists (as well as some dabbling with Dada) resulted in art works that belonged in to turn to all – and none – of those groups. Did I mention that I loved this show?
Klee was a “romantic ironist”, and he felt that his work should be a “game” within a system of laws that he created. Working early (1902) with body distortion, and ridiculing heroic figures and ideaologies, his first exhibition was at the Munich Secessionist Exhibition of 1906.
Moving between Munich and Paris (where he first met Picasso) he discovered cubism in 1911, and moving into Mechanical figures after WWI. By 1923 he was at Walter Gropius’ Bauhaus, where he became fascinated by construction and grids. His travels to Egypt built upon that, and his “network pictures” began., another phase of his constructivism His lectures “Writing on Form and Design Theory” were published in English from there…and Wikipedia thinks that they were as important for his time as da Vinci’s were for the Renaissnce.
By the 1930’s he was talking to Picasso again – but silently – entirely in pictures (and what I wouldn’t have given to be a fly on that wall!). But 1933 arrived. Hitler came to power. Klee, like so many artists, left and went into exile in Bern. He continued working – he couldn’t stop, but he was unwell, and died 7 years later.
Two words on this show: Go Now.
Some works are from America, some are from the Klee Centre in Switzerland, some from private collections and the French museums own – extensive collections. But some of the works are fragile – and may not travel again.
Centre Pompidou (in English & French)
Tickets 14 Euros (note) doesn’t allow you to go to the Beat exhibition)
Ctalogue: Paul Klee L’ironie a l’ouevre , edited by Angela Lampe Euros 44.90
And for a refreshing beverage (until 2am) http://restaurantgeorgesparis.com/fr/