Paul Klee: The Nature of Creation

Hayward Gallery

Hayward Gallery, 17 January – 1 April 2002

A Scholarly Focus and an Artist’s Eye
Paul Klee: The Nature of Creation was the first major retrospective of Klee’s work to be held in the UK. Selected by the artist Bridget Riley – a fervent admirer of Klee’s work – and Robert Kudielka, then Professor of Aesthetics and the Philosophy of Art at the University of Arts in Berlin, the exhibition benefitted from what Hayward Gallery Director Susan Ferleger-Brades described as ‘both a scholarly focus and an artist’s eye.’ 

Featuring 96 works that ranged from drawings and watercolours to examples of his teaching at the Bauhaus, the exhibition set out to examine ‘the seminal role Klee had in the development of 20th-century art.’

Intimacy and Grandeur
To accommodate the intimate scale of the majority of Klee’s work, the exhibition’s architects Paul Williams broke up the cavernous spaces of the Hayward’s lower galleries with a succession of elegant partitions, on which were displayed a maximum of five works – the largest number that Riley felt one should be presented with at any one time. The end result was praised by Ferleger-Brades for its ‘rare combination of intimacy and grandeur.’ Paul Klee: The Nature of Creation was sponsored by paint company Dulux, who donated a total of 50 litres of paint in ‘Klee colours’ – greens, blues and yellows – for the walls of the gallery. 

The exhibition was designed by Stanton Williams Architects, who broke up the cavernous spaces of the Hayward’s lower galleries with a succession of elegant partitions.

Exhibition poster featuring Klee's Der Bote des Herbstes (1922)

An early exhibition proposal for The Nature of Creation.

An early exhibition proposal. The working title for the show was 'Highways and byways'.

As part of the public programme for this exhibition, poets Andrew Motion, Tom Paulin and Denise Riley discussed Klee's work in relation to poetry.

Sketch of potential grouping of themes in exhibition

Certain walls within the exhibition were painted 'Klee colours', selected by Bridget Riley.

Exhibition guide for Paul Klee: The Nature of Creation.

The exhibition, which ran concurrently with Ann-Sofi Sidén: Warte Mal! Prostitution After the Velvet Revolution, was attended by 129,902 visitors.

Interview with Bridget Riley in The Sunday Telegraph.

Press cutting from The Independent on Sunday, 2002

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