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The romantic irony of Paul Klee explored at Paris retrospective

Paul Klee's "Insula dulcamara"
Paul Klee's "Insula dulcamara"
3 min

A new exhibition exploring the themes of irony and satire in Paul Klee’s work recently opened at the world-famous Centre Pompidou in Paris, in what is the first major retrospective of the German-Swiss artist work in France in over four decades.

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Arguably one of the most iconic artists of the 20th century, Klee has often been overlooked in France, where the last major retrospective of his work dates back to 1969 at the Musée National d’Art Moderne in the capital.

But now, more than 40 years later, the Centre Pompidou has brought together 230 different works by the artist for “Paul Klee: l’ironie à l’oeuvre” ["Paul Klee: Irony at work”].

Broken up into seven themes, the exhibition explores irony and satire in Klee’s work throughout his career. It begins with “Satirical beginnings”, a close look at the artist’s early years, during which he largely produced graphic works while also experimenting with different techniques.

It then wends its way through his discovery of Cubism during the 1910s before moving on to the influence of Constructivism on his work during the 1920s. The retrospective concludes with “The crisis years” in the 1930s, when Klee was forced to flee Germany after being denounced as a "cultural Bolshevik” and “insane” amid Hitler’s rise to power.

Klee was born in 1879 near Bern in Switzerland and died aged 60 in Muralto, Switzerland, in 1940.

“Paul Klee: l’ironie à l’oeuvre” runs from April 6 – August 1 at the Centre Pompidou in Paris. For more information, visit the museum’s website.

In pictures: Paul Klee retrospective at the Centre Pompidou

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