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Paul Klee and the Decorative in Modern Art


  • 75 b/w illus. 8 colour illus.
  • Page extent: 342 pages
  • Size: 247 x 174 mm
  • Weight: 0.94 kg

Library of Congress

  • Dewey number: 760/.092
  • Dewey version: 21
  • LC Classification: N6888.K55 A9 2004
  • LC Subject headings:
    • Klee, Paul,--1879-1940--Aesthetics
    • Matisse, Henri,--1869-1954--Aesthetics
    • Decoration and ornament--Philosophy

Library of Congress Record


 (ISBN-13: 9780521822503 | ISBN-10: 0521822505)

One of the goals of Modernism was the presentation of the essence of art, or pure form. Encouraged by theorists, from Immanual Kant to Alois Riegl and Wilhelm Worringer, modern artists found pure form in ornament, which though promising, had been sullied by connotations of materiality, domesticity, and femininity. These qualities were at once alluring and threatening. In this study, Jenny Anger examines Paul Klee's attitude towards and use of the decorative. She shows that the decorative, including its gendered associations, significantly informed Klee's art production, his exhibiting strategies, his critical response, and the discursive construction of his work for public consumption. She also compares his work to that of another major modernist, Henri Matisse, to confirm the critical role of the decorative in Modernism. Anger also explores the relevance of the decorative for contemporary, and especially women, artists.

• First Klee book to discuss the decorative • First book on Klee to combine theoretical, formal, and historical analysis • Seeks to overturn gendered prejudices against the decorative and feminine in art


Introduction: redressing the decorative; 1. The decorative Klee; 2. Re-Dressing Klee; 3. Carpets of memory.


'… scholarly and fascinating … very fertile ground for those from art history or cultural criticism who wish to explore conceptual and compositional aspects of Klee's work … There is so much in this volume that repays careful thought.' Jonathan Osmond, The Art Book

'The outstanding feature of Paul Klee and the Decorative in Modern Art is that it delivers a meticulously researched, critical narrative of Klee's exhibition and reception history between 1906 and 1920, including an extensive appendix. Contemporary handlists and catalogues were often incomplete, or used alternative titles, but Jenny Anger has worked tirelessly to construct a detailed inventory of works included in these early shows.' The Burlington Magazine

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