Zentrum Paul Klee Bern Founded by Maurice E. and Martha Müller and the heirs of Paul Klee
Paul Klee, der blühende Garten, 1930, 199 (D 9), Zentrum Paul Klee, Bern, Leihgabe aus Privatbesitz -
Paul Klee, der blühende Garten, 1930, 199 (D 9), Zentrum Paul Klee, Bern, Leihgabe aus Privatbesitz
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17.05.2008 – 31.08.2008

In Paul Klee’s Enchanted Garden

An exhibition within the bounds of East of Eden. A Garden Show. Exhibitions, installations and events transform the entire Zentrum – and the grounds around it – into a dynamic theme park that places the interior spaces and exterior environment in thrilling and varying reciprocal exchange.

A significant part of Paul Klee's oeuvre is dedicated to the representation of gardens and parks and the articulation of the growth and morphology of plants. To Klee, the study of Nature – what Klee called the «dialogue with nature» – was a matter of principle, a sine qua non of his existence; the artist was, as he put it, «an individual, himself natural, and a slice of nature in the realm of the natural». In Paul Klee’s Enchanted Garden will bring to life the rich diversity of Klee’s fascination with plants and gardens, and his complex, now analytically objective, then again radically subjective approximations. The exhibition will focus on the importance of Klee's physical proximity to nature: the environs of Bern, which the young artist found to be a retreat and a place of hallucinatory experience of Nature; and the gardens and parks in the vicinity of his several studios;  the gardens and parks not far from his succession of studios – Munich’s English Garden, Ilm Park in Weimar, Wörlitz Park near Dessau – as well as the gardens of St. Germain and those of Hammamet, which he saw in 1914 during his trip to Tunisia with Macke and Moilliet.

The exhibition will also explore Klee’s preoccupation with the structure and morphology of plants, and their growth patterns and metamorphoses in nature. Klee collected plants as he moved about, preserving them carefully in little frames and cases made especially for them, or adding them to his herbarium. His close interest in nature can be witnessed in early studies in his botanical school books, which he peppered with leaves from his herbarium and other items; it can also be seen in his descriptions of plants from his time as a Bauhaus teacher, as well as in a number of works of art.Trees – which Klee saw as representing an ideal in terms of vegetative growth and a metaphor for the process of artistic creation – occupy a special position both in Klee’s thinking and in his creative output. The exhibition will draw on specific examples to demonstrate the diversity of form and content of this particular aspect of Klee’s oeuvre.

Klee’s «dialogue» with nature paved the way for the imaginary plant worlds he conjured up in parallel to nature, as it were. Klee’s gardens are products of his artistic fantasy – magical and dreamlike, exotically peculiar, at times even threatening, and surpassing anything we can conceive of in terms of a contemplative floral idyll. What emerges from the diversity of Klee’s paintings and the titles he gives them is a kind of botanical panopticism. The plants frequently sport anthropomorphic features or become creatures with physiognomies and feelings. As such, Klee’s gardens represent settings for actors in a «botanical theatre» (the title of one of Klee’s most famous works). The exhibition will be presenting this wealth of imaginary botanicals in the form of groups of works featuring fantastic rock, fruit and flower gardens, oriental, tropical and mythological gardens as well as places of pleasure and magic.