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Art Matters Lecture - Klee and the Angelus Novus with Dr. Annie Bourneuf

Thursday, June 1, 2023
5:30 pm – 6:30 pm

Santa Barbara Museum of Art
Mary Craig Auditorium

Annie Bourneuf, Ph.D
Associate Professor Art History, Theory, and Criticism at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago

Behind the Angel of History (University of Chicago Press, 2022) begins with artist R. H. Quaytman uncovering something startling about a picture by Paul Klee. Pasted beneath Klee’s 1920 Angelus Novus—famous for its role in the writings of its first owner, Walter Benjamin—Quaytman found that Klee had interleaved a nineteenth-century engraving of Martin Luther, leaving just enough visible to provoke questions.

Behind the Angel of History reveals why this hidden face matters, delving into the intertwined artistic, political, and theological issues consuming Germany in the wake of the Great War. With the Angelus Novus, Klee responded to a growing call for a new religious art. For Benjamin, Klee’s Angelus became bound up with the prospect of meaningful dialogue among religions in Germany.

Reflecting on Klee’s, Benjamin’s, and Quaytman’s strategies of superimposing conflicting images, Annie Bourneuf reveals new dimensions of complexity in this iconic work and the writing it inspired.

Generous support for Art Matters is provided by the SBMA Women’s Board.

Cover image for Behind the Angel of History: The "Angelus Novus" and Its Interleaf (University of Chicago Press, 2022). Paul Klee, Angelus novus, 1920. Oil transfer and watercolor on paper, 31.8 x 24.2 cm. Collection of The Israel Museum, Jerusalem.

This event is in person at Santa Barbara Museum of Art's Mary Craig Auditorium.

For visitors attending events in the Mary Craig Auditorium, proof of vaccination is not required, and face covering/masks are recommended, but not required.


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