MASI Lugano presents an extraordinary collection of drawings and etchings by Paul Klee from the Sylvie and Jorge Helft collection. The collection, being exhibited all together in a museum for the first time, boasts around seventy works including pencil, pen and pastel drawings, watercolours, etchings and lithographs that cover a lengthy period of the artist’s career, from 1914 to his death. Patiently assembled from the 1970s onwards, this coherent group of works eloquently highlights the power and the importance of drawing, line drawing in particular, in Klee’s art.
Almost half of the artist’s vast oeuvre – of almost 9,000 works – consists of drawings. A skilful, multifaceted draftsman right from the start, Klee found drawing the perfect tool to achieve the spontaneity, authenticity and pared down aesthetic that he so appreciated in prehistoric art and children’s pictures.
Moods, atmospheres and situations, real and imaginary characters; the world of the circus, plants and animals, theatre and of course music, up to premonitions of death and illness: in the works on display the direct, prolific medium of drawing touches on the whole of Klee’s mystical, fairy-tale realm.
In his works Klee uses lines of all possible kinds: straight lines, zig-zags, vertical, horizontal; and lines that sketch circles, arrows, numbers, letters, signs and symbols, to create graphic works with an often ironic, humorous vein, sometimes verging on the sarcastic, but sometimes taking on dramatic, deeply tragic undertones.