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Gursky and Klee

Mills College Weekly

Imagine an ever-expanding universe contained within a 6’x12′ frame. Or drawings in a museum that actually make you laugh out loud. Those that enter the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, with its current show featuring Swiss Modernist Paul Klee and German photographer Andreas Gursky, will be rewarded with an unusually lively viewing experience.

“A Passion for Paul Klee: the Djerassi Collection at SFMOMA,” opened last Saturday to a line of fans clamoring to see the first complete showing of work from Dr. Carl Djerassi’s extensive collection. Featuring over 140 works of drawings, etchings, lithographs and watercolors, Klee’s images of playful characters and landscapes, span the years from 1885 to 1940. Klee, who was among a group of expressionist artists known as Blue Rider and a prominent figure of the Bauhaus German design school, demonstrates his range of style in this show. At once sophisticated and childlike, Klee’s fanciful world is adorned with creations from a young, and especially precocious mind.

As for Gursky, some call him cubist, others commercial, but there is no refuting the startlingly perfect images of controlled chaos that characterize the work of this photographer.

Whether its Rhine landscapes, the frenzied floor of raves, or deserted factories, his expansive images both overwhelm and invite the viewer.

This is the face of consumption, as seen through the experience of shoppers at a ’99 Cent’ store or from an outsider looking upon the Tokyo stock exchange. Through sheer size and eerily symmetrical (and manipulated) scenes of industrial proportions, Gursky effectively asserts the excessive yet insignificant fact of man’s abundance.

The Klee show is on display through June 8 and “Andreas Gursky” through June 1.