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The Social Art of Paul Klee

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Ben Wiedel-Kaufmann reviews the recent exhibition Paul Klee: Making Visible at Tate Modern.

Wiedel-Kaufman writes that "Klee did not posit his abstraction or formal development in opposition to the material world, or as an expression of some ‘inner necessity’, but instead, pursuing figurative and abstract modes throughout his career, seems to have reached a critical understanding of Schapiro’s later insight that it was ‘not that the processes of imitating nature were exhausted, but the valuation of nature itself had changed’… he developed a searching engagement with the world – in its social, material, mythological, expressive and private manifestations – alongside a radical approach to the formal elements of picture making. It is a fusion that seems worth rescuing from both formalist and Marxist accounts… Not all of Klee’s work, of course, partakes so apparently in the overthrow of ‘internalisation’. Running through the best works of the exhibition, however, there remains an expansive vision of what a painting could be or do; a balancing between subjective intuition and objective reality, between figuration and abstraction, between diverse modes of visual communication, between ‘self’ ‘nature’ and ‘art’."

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