November 7, 2012 – Roger Benjamin

Professor of Art History, University of Sydney
Clark/Mellon Curatorial Fellow, Clark Art Institute

“Monochromy, Polychromy, Photography: Kandinsky, Münter and Klee in Tunisia”

Two key figures of the German avant-garde, Wassily Kandinsky and Paul Klee, travelled to paint in Tunisia in 1905 and 1914 respectively. This paper examines their luminous color works – ethno-decorative in Kandinky’s case, cubo-orphist and cryptic in Klee’s – in dialogue with contemporary photography. Local studio photography by Garrigues or Lehnert & Landrock provided a vocabulary of the colonial scene, while black and white snapshots taken by Gabriele Münter, Kandinsky’s artist companion, and by Klee’s jocular friend August Macke, escape the colonial paradigms of the Ansichtskarte.