MAN_Museo d'Arte Provincia di Nuoro

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Paul Klee

Animated Worlds

30.10.2015  -  14.02.2016

Curated by Pietro Bellasi and Guido Magnaguagno

Scientific coordinator: Raffaella Resch 

“Our initial perplexity before nature is explained by our seeing at first the small outer branches and not penetrating to the main branches or the trunk. But once this is realized, one will perceive a repetition of the whole law even in the outermost leaf and turn it to good use” (Paul Klee, Diaries, no. 536). 

Following the exhibition dedicated to the relationship of Alberto Giacometti's works and archaic statues, MAN Museum of Art of the Province of Nuoro continues with its project that explores little-known aspects of the most important artists of the 20th century with an exhibition dedicated to Paul Klee (1879 - 1940).

Unprecedented in Sardinia, Klee is one of the most complex and original artists of the last century. With this exhibition, organized by the MAN Museum and the Autonomous Region of Sardinia, the Province of Nuoro and the Banco di Sardegna Foundation, curated by Pietro Bellasi and Guido Magnaguagno, with the scientific coordination of Raffaella Resch, the intention is to explore a fundamental element in the artist's work: the perception of the presence of a vital, generating principle inborn in the matter of things. 

Specifically, Klee never spoke of “animism”, but his work appears permeated with an animated spirit to be discerned in all material reality and evoked by the artist's creative action. In “Superior Being” (Diaries, no. 660), through his vivifying vision the artist brings to life the generating element present in the different worlds that inhabit the cosmos, beneath the surface of things. Be they men, children, animals, objects, landscapes or architecture, Klee's worlds all obey the same law of nature, which the artist investigates and imitates. 

A single vital principle governs the entire natural order, from large things down to the infinitely small. This principle seems to appear in many of the artist's works, especially in his drawings and watercolours of the 1920s and 30s. Works such as Feigenbaum (Fig Tree) of 1929, or Im Park (In the Park) of 1940, on exhibition here, and also the important painting Wohin? (Where?) of 1920, from the collection of the city of Locarno, displayed in 1937 at the Degenerate Art exhibition organized by the German nazi regime. 

The representation of the animal world offers a series of parables and moral fables, where animals are elevated to the role of human beings with their vices and virtues. In the drawing Tierfreundschaft (Animal Friendship) of 1923, a dog and a cat go for a peaceful stroll, personifying the sense of friendship that can arise between two human beings. 

The study of his architectural works reveals Klee's interest in the perception of form and comprehension of the organic, living element in it, evident in watercolours such as Americanisch - Japanisch (American Japanese), created in 1918, where we see stylized buildings rise beside the icon of the eye. “And once one has grasped the idea of measurability in connection with design, the study of nature will progress with greater ease and accuracy" wrote Klee (Diaries no. 536). 

But the generative principle in all things can be seen declaredly mostly in the works that evoke or imitate the world of infancy, as in Hier der bestellte Wagen! (Here's the Requested Wagon)of 1935, but also in the very fine painting Getrübtes (Troubled), of 1934, from the collections of the GAM in Turin, or still again in the works where the figures are represented with simple, stylized childlike lines, as in the painting Gebärde eines Antlitzes (Expression of a Face) of 1939, from the collection of the Biella Museum. 

Organic forms of life and spirits of matter enliven the different subjects present in Klee's works. An image that seems to find a formal synthesis in a work such as Figurale Blätter (Figurative Leaves) of 1938 where anthropomorphic figures, like small fetuses, live curled up in leaves representing incubators. 

As an artist immersed in the spirit of his times, in which scientific discoveries followed one another at a rapid pace, Kleeunderstood the upheavals caused by the theories of relativity and quantum physics, as well as the development of psychoanalytic studies. He reinterpreted them in his own way within a magical and phenomenic vision of the universe. 


A catalogue of the exhibition will be published by Magonza Editore with essays by Pietro Bellasi, Guido Magnaguagno and Raffaella Resch, as well as the reproduction of all the works on display together with biographic and bibliographic notes. 

Pietro Bellasi is an expert in the anthropology of art. He has lectured at the University of Bologna and the Sorbonne. He has curated several exhibitions and catalogues, among which "Giacometti e l'arcaico" Giacometti and the Archaic), Nuoro 2014; "Corpo, automi e robot" (Body, Automata and Robots), Lugano 2010, "The Giacometti. The Valley and the World"), Milan and Mannheim, 2000-2001; "Un diavolo per capello" (In a Foul Temper), Bologna 2005; Tinguely and Munari, La Spezia, 1994. 

Guido Magnaguagno, a Swiss art historian, was the vice director of the Kunsthaus in Zurich and for many years the director of the Tinguely Museum in Basel. He has curated many exhibitions of contemporary art and is an expert in the history of Swiss art. 

Raffaella Resch has organized and coordinated the scientific aspects of many exhibitions and catalogues at the Antonio Mazzotta Foundation. At present she works as a freelance expert with several artists and institutions.


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