Globe West | Arts

BC’s McMullen Museum of Art presents unique look at Klee

 Detail from Paul Klee’s 1937 “Printed Sheet with Pictures,’’ among his works in a new exhibition at Boston College’s McMullen Museum, with an opening reception Sunday at 7 p.m.
Detail from Paul Klee’s 1937 “Printed Sheet with Pictures,’’ among his works in a new exhibition at Boston College’s McMullen Museum, with an opening reception Sunday at 7 p.m.The Phillips Collection, Washington D.C.

Boston College’s McMullen Museum of Art is presenting an exclusive look at the work of artist Paul Klee that is different from previous shows of the same artist, according to lead curator John Sallis, because of its “focus on the relationship between Klee’s art and his philosophy.”

The exhibition, titled “Paul Klee: Philosophical Vision; From Nature to Art,” opens Saturday at the museum, on the college’s middle campus at 140 Commonwealth Ave. in Chestnut Hill.

“When I began planning this exhibition, I traveled to Bern, Switzerland, to visit the Zentrum Paul Klee,’’ said Sallis, who is also a philosophy professor at BC. “In discussing my ideas with scholars there, I discovered that an exhibition focusing on the philosophical aspects of Klee’s work had never been done.”


Klee, who lived from 1879 to 1940, was known for his focus on nature and philosophy and his intense interest in the influences of the natural world. European philosophers who reciprocally engaged with Klee’s works included Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Martin Heidegger, Michel Foucault, and Walter Benjamin.

According to Sallis, the McMullen exhibition features more than 65 works, some of which have never been on display in the United States before.

“The goal that I had in mind in planning the exhibition and proposing it was to explore the philosophical dimension of Klee’s work,” Sallis said.

“I’m a philosopher and have long studied the links between philosophy and art. In actually curating the exhibition, what I discovered is just how profound the connection is between Klee as a thinker — he wrote extensively about his ideas — and Klee as an artist. His philosophical ideas inform his paintings.

“At the same time, what I found is that his art serves as a way in which he develops and extends his ideas. Some of the ideas that are important for the exhibition are his ideas about nature, his ideas about the imaginary, his ideas about space, time, movement. Also the relation between visual arts and music — he was a professional musician also — and his ideas about politics,” he said.


On display through Dec. 9, the exhibition’s watercolors, drawings, etchings, illustrations, and oil paintings demonstrate how Klee expressed the same theories about nature, words, and music that he initially developed in his writings and lectures through form, line, and color.

The museum’s director, Nancy Netzer, credits Sallis for organizing a display that is, in her words, “a dazzler.”

“We are pleased to have been able to capture the new research being undertaken by scholars around the world on Klee’s role in the world of philosophy,” said Netzer, an art history professor at BC. “Additionally, we are pleased to be bringing together for the first time many works by Klee from the Zentrum Paul Klee in Bern with those in American collections.”

An opening reception and special viewing of the Klee show is scheduled for Sunday from 7 to 9:30 p.m.

In conjunction with the exhibition, an international conference on Klee with particular attention to his philosophical writings is scheduled for Oct. 17–19, and a concert titled “Klee as Music” will take place on Oct. 18 from 5 to 7 p.m. in Room 100 of Gasson Hall.

The McMullen Museum, on the first floor of Devlin Hall, is open Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m., with free admission. Docent-led tours will take place from 2 to 2:45 p.m. every Sunday during the exhibition.


For more information, call 617-552-8100 or go to www.bc.edu/artmuseum.

ILLUSTRATING STORIES: The Emerson Umbrella Center for the Arts presents “The Art of Story: Illustrator and Narrative Artist Show and Sale” through Oct. 1 in its gallery at 40 Stow St., Concord.

Featuring the illustrations of Emerson Umbrella member artists Wayne Geehan, Sing Hanson, Deb Loverd, Julia Miner, Max Payne, and Ilse Plume, as well as invited guest artist Annie Downs Catterson, the exhibition covers a range of paintings and drawings intended to tell stories that draw viewers into a re-created world, whether that be the world of a folk tale, a fantasy, or a historical account.

The books in which some of the illustrations appeared are on display as well.

An opening reception will be held next Thursday from 6 to 9 p.m. General gallery hours are Monday to Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday, 1 to 5 p.m. A companion show is on display at Noa Jewelry, Fine Handcrafts, and Gifts at 86 Commonwealth Ave. in West Concord. For more information, call 978-371-0820 or go to www.emersonumbrella.org.

OPEN COMEDY: Framingham’s Amazing Things Arts Center opens its Amazing Open Comedy Mique Show series with singer and comedian Dale LePage next Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.

In its fourth year, the Open Comedy Mique series has drawn a growing audience as well as an increasing number of performers eager for a turn on stage at the arts center, at 160 Hollis St. Tickets are $6, or $5 for members.


For more information, call 508-405-2787 or go online to www.amazingthings.org.

Send ideas to nancyswest@ gmail.com.