Jackson Pollock, Robert Motherwell, Mark Tobey – The North Americans are here!

Zentrum Paul Klee



10 Americans. After Paul Klee

15.09.2017 – 07.01.2018

Jackson Pollock, Composition No. 16, 1948
Jackson Pollock, Composition No. 16, 1948,
Oil on canvas, stretched on wood, Museum Frieder Burda, Baden-Baden,
© Pollock-Krasner Foundation / 2017, ProLitteris, Zurich

Jackson Pollock, Robert Motherwell, Mark Tobey - The North Americans are here!

10 Americans is the first exhibition to explore how Paul Klee inspired famous American artists as well as his impact on art from 1930 to 1960 in the United States. At Zentrum Paul Klee visitors can admire major masterpieces from the other side of the Atlantic that have never been exhibited in Switzerland before. The exhibition has been co-organized with the Phillips Collection in Washington DC. The founder of this collection of Paul Klee’s work was among the first to introduce the artist and his art to a United States’ audience and make him and his work accessible to the general public on this continent. Many American artists have found inspiration in the works by Paul Klee that the Phillips Collection has on show in its Klee Room.

10 Americans in Bern
As Andrew Kagan asserted in 1975 in his essay «Paul Klee’s Influence on American Painting» - there is no question of this artist having been a seminal influence on young contemporary artists in the United States. Kagan added, however, that hitherto there had been no serious attempt to find out to what extent and in which ways. 10 Americans: After Paul Klee is making its contribution to filling this gap in research.

The exhibition at the Zentrum Paul Klee is mounting a selection of ten United States artists. They are all artists who found inspiration in Paul Klee in some way - some of them expressed their admiration of Paul Klee's art in their own work, or gained insights into Klee's artistic practices and visual mindset. Besides works by Paul Klee, we are exhibiting pieces by William Baziotes, Gene Davis, Adolph Gottlieb, Norman Lewis, Robert Motherwell, Kenneth Noland, Jackson Pollock, Mark Tobey, Bradley Walker Tomlin, and Theodoros Stamos.

Devastation in Europe
In the Third Reich, Paul Klee was vilified as an artist and his work was classified as «degenerate». He fled from the Nazis to the country of his birth, Switzerland, and settled in Bern. At the time many artists and gallery owners fled from Europe and sought refuge in America. Klee, living in relative isolation in Bern, worked on the development of his prolific and diverse late work.

The Klee Vogue in the United States
Meanwhile Paul Klee’s popularity in the United States grew constantly. At first his art was seen as interesting, but responses were critical and reserved. The time was not yet ripe to appreciate his art. The tide turned in 1930 when the Museum of Modern Art in New York mounted his first solo exhibition. With it Klee not only fascinated many artists, but became more and more popular among the general public too. From this time onwards, in New York three rivaling galleries held regular exhibitions of Klee's work, while private collectors developed a veritable passion for Klee. Especially the exhibition that MoMA organized in memory of Paul Klee after his decease in 1941 as well as the large Klee retrospective mounted in the winter of 1949/50 - which was shown in several cities across the United States - triggered a genuine craze in New York for this artist, a craze that set in when the Second World War came to an end. Although young American artists of the time did not have the opportunity of getting to know Paul Klee personally - Klee never visited the country - they nevertheless were able to gain many insights into his multifaceted oeuvre through the numerous exhibitions of his work and the many publications about it.

Collaboration with the Phillips Collection
The exhibition has been mounted in collaboration with the Phillips Collection, Washington DC, and will, after Bern, be on show in Washington from February 3 to May 6, 2018.

The exhibition was made possible with the generous support of Canton of Bern, Die Mobiliar, Terra Foundation for American Art and Burgergemeinde Bern as well as Bonhote Bank.

Exhibition opening: Sept. 14-, 2017, 6:30 p.m. at the Zentrum Paul Klee

Dr. Fabienne Eggelhofer, Chief Curator Zentrum Paul Klee





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