Paul Klee: 1939

Text by Dawn Ades. Poetry by Richard Tuttle

Forthcoming September 2020

The year before he died, in what was one of the most difficult yet prolific periods of his life, Paul Klee created his most surprising and innovative works.

In 1939, the year before his death from a long illness and against a backdrop of sociopolitical turmoil and the outbreak of World War II, Klee worked with a vigor and inventiveness that rivaled even the most productive periods of his youth. This book illuminates the artist’s response to his personal difficulties and the era’s broader realities through imagery that is tirelessly inventive—by turns political, solemn, playful, humorous, and poetic.

The works featured testify to Klee’s restless drive to experiment with form and material. His use of adhesive, grease, oil, chalk, and watercolor, among other media, resulted in surfaces that are not only visually striking, but also highly tactile and original. Not unlike a diary, the drawings are often meditative reflections on the pains and pleasures of life—their titles, among them Monsters in readiness and Struggles with himself, signal Klee’s frame of mind.

Renowned art historian Dawn Ades looks at this group of drawings in the context of their time and as indicative of a pivotal moment in art history. Moved by this late period of Klee’s oeuvre, American artist Richard Tuttle responds to specific works in the form of a dialogical poem. This stunning publication highlights the novelty and ingenuity of Klee’s late works, which deeply affected the generation of artists—including Anni Albers, Jean Dubuffet, Mark Tobey, and Zao Wou-Ki—that emerged after World War II and continues to captivate artists and viewers alike today.


Publisher: David Zwirner Books

Artists: Richard Tuttle, Paul Klee

Contributors: Dawn Ades, Richard Tuttle

Publication Date: September 2020

Binding: Hardcover

Dimensions: 8 3/4 × 11 in | 22.2 × 27.9 cm

Pages: 128

Reproductions: 65 color

ISBN: 9781644230381

Retail: $50 | £40 | €45

Status: Not Yet Published

Stock: Unavailable

Dawn Ades

Dawn Ades is professor emerita of the history and theory of art at the University of Essex and professor of the history of art at the Royal Academy of Arts. In 2013, she was made CBE for services to higher education.

Richard Tuttle

Richard Tuttle’s often poetic objects defy genre through exploration of material form. Sometimes, Tuttle crafts fragile assemblages of unassuming materials, like paper wire, string, and cloth. While trespassing constraints of framing, Tuttle manages to investigate the potential of line, activating marginal space whose volume becomes expressive too. Like Paul Klee, Tuttle draws upon the other-than-conscious and the richness of the overlooked. A book of Tuttle’s collected writings from 1966 to 2019, A Fair Sampling, was published by Walther König in 2020.