The exhibition takes as its theme the significance of satirical commentary and the grotesque exaggerations in the work of Klee and his contemporaries at the turn of the 20th century. The exhibition begins with artists – such as Klee’s friends Alfred Kubin and Lyonel Feininger – as well as pioneering models like Honoré Daumier or James Ensor, who provided important stimuli.
”I serve beauty by drawing her enemies. (Caricature, satire)”, Paul Klee wrote in 1901, commenting upon his critical view of the world. In Klee’s early work satirical drawings and caricatures are the most defining elements of his work. Klee as satirist and caricaturist only becomes comprehensible if one takes into account his ”satirical environment”: the Munich magazines of the turn of the century, particularly ”Simplicissimus”. A reading area in the middle of the exhibition offers a glimpse of this world. The many facets to Klee’s love of satire and the grotesque and his sense of irony become visible over the rest of the exhibition. Beginning with his marginal drawings in schoolbooks and jotters as well as his earlier satires, grotesques and ”Inventions”, Klee’s critical and ironic view of the world falls under six thematic headings. These deal with such different questions as relations between the sexes, power and politics, war and militarism, religion and piety or the sly view of an animal world in which human behaviour is reflected.