Praising Paul Klee in his short, brilliant “Eulogy” published six years after the Swiss artist’s death in 1940, the French Surrealist painter André Masson writes in the present tense. Not surprisingly: it is often in the present tense that artists refer to the artists who are their masters, since the work is constantly alive, and the artist is subsumed in the work. When Masson (teaching us Klee’s work as he eulogizes him) remarks that Klee “communicates what is communicable in a secret, he does not disdain to teach,” he is in part referring to Klee’s role as a master of the Bauhaus in Weimar and then in Dessau, Germany. What Masson says of Klee is to be borne out by evidence Masson never saw but intuited from glimpses: the corpus of Klee’s voluminous teaching notebooks, recording a decade and a half of his teaching the principles of form-making, primarily at the Bauhaus. The notebooks and other...

 
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