Many people who know of Klee will instantly think of the colourful 'cubes' that are characteristic of his style. These are here in abundance, but this exhibition shows how there is so much more variety in his art- this is a chance to see less familiar works featuring figures, animals and landscapes, as well as more abstract forms, in addition to providing an insight into his life and times, including his influential teachings at the Bauhaus school and his struggles and displacement during wartime.
This meticulously curated show presents Klee's works in the order in which he wished them to be exhibited (he himself was very meticulous, both as an artist and as a teacher- he catalogued his works and planned his lessons in detailed notebooks). The varied choice of works and their chronology is not only fitting, but illuminating in shedding new light both on the paintings and on the man himself and his particular artistic process.
The earlier works are relatively small, especially for visitors more familiar with the larger size and flamboyance of the works of artists such as Roy Lichtenstein or Damien Hirst (both recently exhibited at Tate Modern)- but Klee is a different kettle of fish. These paintings are perfectly formed, perfectly beautiful and painstakingly executed. They don't lose impact through their size- if anything they gain it. They demand close inspection and inspire quiet contemplation, and visitors tend to linger, drawn in by colours that perfectly complement each other and compositions that may seem offbeat but display a perfect symmetry. Klee was preoccupied with colour, and stated, 'Colour possesses me.'
Klee's works become larger and more exuberant in his later years, in defiance of his failing health, with many featuring playful and childlike trees and flowers, bursting with the life that was ebbing away from him.
This is one of the most comprehensive overviews of the work of Klee to be seen in London in years, and is richly deserved. Full of colour and emotion, it is a stunning tribute to this quirky and original artist.