There was no use in attempting to imitate Picasso. Picasso was too powerful. He devoured those who tried. But [Paul Klee]'s example was accessible. When he said, "I begin logically with chaos," New York's painters understood. When he said he wanted to "create an order out of feeling, and going still further, out of motion," he might have been speaking for a young Jackson Pollock. Klee loved to work his surfaces with plaster and with clay, he stained paper, he stained burlap, he experimented constantly. Perhaps it is no wonder that there are early paintings by Mark Rothko, and early Kenneth Nolands, and early Barnett Newmans, that look like works by Klee.
It is not an easy show to see. Hours are required. (And admission costs $6.) Klee's paintings have the scale of the page, not of the wall, so that visitors must stand in line and shuffle past the pictures. Often, when you're only half through with a drawing, you get nudged from the side. You'd think the crowds would snarl. But Paul Klee will not let them. People chuckle at his paintings, and smile at one another. Klee's pictures evoke love.
CAPTION:Klee's "Twittering Machine" (1922), left;above, a self-portrait, a woodcut from 1911. Paul Klee with his cat, Bimbo, in 1935. From the exhibition, Klee's "Mask of Fear" (1932).
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