Paul Klee's presence in Japan is unlike that of hardly any other Western artist. Across every artistic genre – from music to comics – Japanese artists have for decades drawn inspiration from the works of Paul Klee. His minimalist style as well as the "Far-Eastern mood" of his works have always fascinated a broad audience in Japan. For the first time, the Zentrum Paul Klee will, in the exhibition From Japonism to Zen. Paul Klee and the Far East, present the many and varied influences of Paul Klee on Japanese art and culture that have persisted to our present day. But Klee equally allowed himself to become inspired by Far-Eastern art in just as many ways. Japonism was in vogue during his productive lifetime. Klee was fascinated not only by Far-Eastern motifs and ornamentation, but also by inkapplication techniques, by calligraphy and the prevailing Zen-Buddhist mind-set. The exhibition in the Zentrum Paul Klee will present and spotlight the intercultural dialogue between East and West and, in doing so, participate in a debate that currently has tremendous relevance.
Until now, Paul Klee's examination and regard for Far-Eastern art, which inspired him throughout his artistic career, has received scant attention. In the exhibition From Japonism to Zen. Paul Klee and the Far East an attempt is being made for the first time to present the many aspects of Klee's fascination with East-Asian art. Beyond the boundaries of narrow, 'classical' Japonism, the importance of ink painting and calligraphy in Klee's oeuvre can be traced to Zen Buddhism.
As such, Klee shares a common element with the French artists of the second half of the 19th century, that is to say artists from the impressionist era and the Nabis Group who were greatly influenced by Japanese art. Around twenty years later, 'classical' Japonism reached Germany and, here too, it was introduced to a wide audience through exhibitions and publications and discussed in artistic circles.
Klee's standing in present-day Japan will constitute a focal point of the exhibition. Klee's work had already attracted attention in Japan in the 1910s. Since then, visual artists as well as musicians, poets, cartoonists and architects have all drawn inspiration from Klee and his work.
The exhibition was curated by Osamu Okuda and Marie Kakinuma.
The exhibition has been organised in collaboration with the Museum of East Asian Art in Cologne, where the exhibition will be able to be viewed from September 2014 until January 2015.
The opening will be accessible to the public and take place on Fri | 18 January 2013 | 18:00 in the Zentrum Paul Klee. Admission is free.