Published: February 13, 2007
The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) has launched Focus, a new series of special collection displays highlighting noteworthy aspects of the museum’s collections. The series provides an opportunity for in-depth and cross-disciplinary presentations that will variously concentrate on a single artist’s achievement, on broader artistic manifestations, on particular historical moments, or on significant groupings of works. The Focus initiative aims to animate the larger history set forth in the painting and sculpture galleries, ensuring that a greater number of familiar and unfamiliar works in the collection are rotated on and off view.
The first in the series, “Focus: Paul Klee,” is an installation of 32 paintings, prints and drawings that spans Klee’s career from 1903 to 1940. On view in the Estée and Joseph H. Lauder Gallery, fifth floor, until March 5, it celebrates the depth and breadth of the artist’s achievement, while reflecting the scope of the museum’s holdings of his work. MoMA’s commitment to Paul Klee (German, 1879–1940) dates from its first survey of his work in 1930, the year following its founding. “Focus: Paul Klee” is organized by Lilian Tone, assistant curator, department of painting and sculpture.
Klee’s oeuvre is characterized by fluid movement between genres and categories: figurative and abstract, descriptive and narrative, openly gestural and tightly geometric, austerely linear and intensely chromatic. “Focus: Paul Klee” brings together iconic paintings such as “Around the Fish,” 1926, and “Cat and Bird,” 1928, along with other superb though lesser-known examples, such as “Introducing the Miracle,” 1916, “In the Grass,” 1930, or “Equals Infinity,” 1932.
Each phase of the artist’s career is represented. His early experiments include etching and aquatint made in Bern, such as “Menacing Head,” 1905, and the spiritually inclined drawings proceeding from his association with the Blaue Reiter group after 1911 in Munich, such as “Introducing the Miracle,” 1916. Later works show the technically inventive paintings and drawings made during Klee’s tenure at the Bauhaus between 1920 and 1931 in Weimar and Dessau, exemplified by “Portrait of an Artist,” 1927. Also featured are boldly simplified works such as “Intoxication,” 1939, created during his last seven years in Switzerland, where he took refuge from Nazi Germany before his death in 1940.
Upcoming Focus displays include “Focus: David Smith,” opening on February 27, and “Focus: Alexander Calder” on March 9.
The Museum of Modern Art is at 11 West 53rd Street. For information, www.moma.org or 212-708-9400.
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