Lois Reynolds Mead

Art and a pink monkeyflower in a native plant garden…


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Art/Nature/Self…

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After a few detours, I am back to describing our trip to Switzerland last July. I broke off after describing the Zentrum Paul Klee building designed by Renzo Piano. I would be remiss not to mention a bit of Paul Klee’s art, also.

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The show we saw at the museum emphasized how Klee began in his youth making naturalistic sketches of nature and architecture but eventually moved from the external surface to the “inner composition of plants and buildings.”  From the catalog: “he constructed floating forms and soaring cities, or took central perspective to the limit. This exhibition from the collection shows how nature and architecture helped the artist Paul Klee to discover organic models and develop an abstract formal language.”

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An early sketchbook showing a central perspective view…

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1895, Untitled (Gothic arch and plants) Watercolor and pencil

1895, Untitled (Gothic arch and plants)
Watercolor and pencil

1912, Sketch of Paris Quill and pencil

1912, Sketch of Paris
Quill and pencil

1922, Red Violet x Yellow-Green graduated Watercolor and pencil

1922, Red Violet x Yellow-Green graduated
Watercolor and pencil

1940, Suburban Evening Wax crayon with undercoating

1940, Suburban Evening
Wax crayon with under coating

The walls of the exhibit space contained quotations from Klee at various stages of his life. (He lived from 1879-1940.)

“Everywhere all I see is architecture, line rhythms, plane rhythms.”  1902

“Like the human being, the painting has a skeleton, muscles and skin. One can speak of a specific anatomy of the picture. […] First of all one constructs a scaffolding of the painting that is to be built.”   1908

“Reduction! One wants to say more than nature and makes the impossible mistake of wanting to say it with more means than she rather than with fewer means.”  1908

“Wednesday, 8 April, Tunis. My head is full of the impressions of last night’s walk. Art/Nature/Self. Went to work at once and painted in water-colour in the Arab quarter. Began the synthesis of urban architecture and pictorial architecture.”  1914

“In Italy I understood the architectural in visual art—I was standing right beside abstract art—today I would say, the constructive. The nearest and at the same time the furthest goal will now be to bring architectural and poetical painting in unison or at least into harmony.”  1920

The paintings nearby emphasized what he was articulating.

1930, Mouth of the Cave Watercolor and charcoal

1930, Mouth of the Cave
Watercolor and charcoal

There were also these wonderful houses…

1935, Portrait of a House Watercolor and charcoal

1935, Portrait of a House
Watercolor and charcoal

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1940, Yellow House I Watercolor and paste

1940, Yellow House I
Watercolor and paste

1922, The dart house Oil, watercolor, pencil, quill

1922, The dart house
Oil, watercolor, pencil, quill

1932, Small town among the rocks Oil

1932, Small town among the rocks
Oil

Klee was born near Bern and at first did not know whether to become a musician or a painter. In 1901 a trip to Italy greatly impacted him. By 1912 he had become a member of the Blue Rider group. There was a 1914 trip to Tunisia, where he underwent an artistic breakout to color and abstraction. He was drafted into the German army during World War I. He started teaching at the Bauhaus in 1921 and his work was shown in the first Surrealist exhibition in 1925. By 1933 he was suspended from teaching by the Nazis and he moved back to Switzerland (Bern). In 1937 his work was seized by the Nazis and fifteen were hung in the “Degenerated Art” exhibition by the Nazis. He died in Switzerland in 1940.

Paul Klee’s  journey as an artist…

 


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Zentrum Paul Klee…

Ponder two words: Renzo Piano

The Italian architect that designed…

#1. The Pompidou Center in Paris. (In collaboration with Richard Rogers.) I loved taking pictures of this building…

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However, I was not sure how much I liked the building itself, plopped down in the midst of the beauty of Paris and all of its formal architecture. My mind gave it a minus grade, most likely because it puts all its inner workings on the outside. (I am perfectly willing to take another trip to Paris to re-evaluate the situation, mind you!)

#2 The Academy of Sciences building in San Francisco. This building is one of my favorites from its living roof of California native plants down to its aquarium. It sits within the nature of Golden Gate Park and has a perfect view of the deYoung Museum. It houses multiple purposes (the planetarium, live penguins, a rainforest, as well as scientists doing their research and work). We visit here often and it gets a big plus from me.

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#3 Zentrum Paul Klee in Bern, Switzerland. Situated so it has an interplay with nature, this building by Piano knocked my socks off with its exuberance and swoop. It perfectly illustrates this quote from Paul Klee in 1902: ” Everywhere all I see is architecture, line rhythms, plane rhythms.” A very big plus from me. That makes it 2-1 in favor of Mr. Piano. (I am so presumptuous to think this matters!)

I linked to a full picture of the building because I did not actually take one of all three of the curves. It started to drizzle and I was balancing my umbrella on my shoulder and trying to hold my iPhone with two hands…if I had only known. At the time I had not made the connection that all three buildings had been designed by the same architect.

We left the bear pit after being unsuccessful in catching sight of the bears. This is the old pit that they sometimes still use, but they do have new digs with lots of vegetative cover and big fishing pools.

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We hopped onto the #12 bus and rode it to its end at the Zentrum.

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This sculpture is taken from a line Paul Klee drew in one of his pieces of art…

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The lobby and cafe…

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Most wonderful of wonderful…the lower area given over to allowing creativity to develop. A whole light-filled space for kids’ art. This building is about the interaction of nature and culture…I could feel it…

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The next post will be about the art in the exhibit rooms…