Paul Klee quotes

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Paul Klee

Birthdate: 18. December 1879
Date of death: 29. June 1940

Paul Klee was a Swiss-born artist. His highly individual style was influenced by movements in art that included Expressionism, Cubism, and Surrealism. Klee was a natural draftsman who experimented with and eventually deeply explored color theory, writing about it extensively; his lectures Writings on Form and Design Theory , published in English as the Paul Klee Notebooks, are held to be as important for modern art as Leonardo da Vinci's A Treatise on Painting for the Renaissance. He and his colleague, Russian painter Wassily Kandinsky, both taught at the Bauhaus school of art, design and architecture in Germany. His works reflect his dry humor and his sometimes childlike perspective, his personal moods and beliefs, and his musicality. Wikipedia

„The changeover was complete; in the summer of 1907 I devoted myself entirely to the appearance of nature and upon these studies built my black-and-white landscapes on glass, 1907/1908.“

—  Paul Klee

Quote (1908), # 831, in The Diaries of Paul Klee; University of California Press, 1964; as quoted by Francesco Mazzaferro, in 'The Diaries of Paul Klee - Part Three' : Klee as a Secessionist and a Neo-Impressionist Artist http://letteraturaartistica.blogspot.nl/2015/05/paul-klee-ev.html
1903 - 1910

„Art does not reproduce what we see. It makes us see.“

—  Paul Klee

Section I

(de) Kunst gibt nicht das Sichtbare wieder, sondern macht sichtbar.
1916 - 1920, Creative Credo (1920)
Variant: Art does not reproduce the visible; rather, it makes visible.

„Things appear to assume a broader and more diversified meaning, often seemingly contradicting the rational experience of yesterday. There is a striving to emphasize the essential character of the accidental.“

—  Paul Klee

Section V
1916 - 1920, Creative Credo (1920)
Context: Formerly we used to represent things visible on earth, things we either liked to look at or would have liked to see. Today we reveal the reality that is behind visible things, thus expressing the belief that the visible world is merely an isolated case in relation to the universe and that there are many more other, latent realities. Things appear to assume a broader and more diversified meaning, often seemingly contradicting the rational experience of yesterday. There is a striving to emphasize the essential character of the accidental.

„My mirror probes down to the heart. I write words on the forehead and around the corners of the mouth. My human faces are truer than the real ones.“

—  Paul Klee

Diary entry (Munich, 1901), # 136, in The Diaries of Paul Klee, 1898-1918; University of California Press, 1968, p. 48
1895 - 1902

„The main thing now is not to paint precociously but to be, or at least become, an individual.“

—  Paul Klee

Diary entry (3 June 1902), # 411, in The Diaries of Paul Klee, 1898-1918; University of California Press, 1968
1895 - 1902
Context: The main thing now is not to paint precociously but to be, or at least become, an individual. The art of mastering life is the prerequisite for all further forms of expression, whether they are paintings, sculptures, tragedies, or musical compositions.

„Nature can afford to be prodigal in everything, the artist must be frugal down to the last detail.“

—  Paul Klee

Diary entry (Munich, 1909), # 857, in The Diaries of Paul Klee, 1898-1918; University of California Press, 1968, p. 236
1903 - 1910
Context: Nature can afford to be prodigal in everything, the artist must be frugal down to the last detail.
Nature is garrulous to the point of confusion, let the artist be truly taciturn.

„His [ Van Gogh's] pathos is alien to me, especially in my current phase, but he is certainly a genius. Pathetic to the point of being pathological, this endangered man can endanger one who does not see through him. Here a brain is consumed by the fire of a star. It frees itself in its work just before the catastrophe. Deepest tragedy takes place here, real tragedy, natural tragedy, exemplary tragedy. Permit me to be terrified.“

—  Paul Klee

Quote (1908), # 816, in The Diaries of Paul Klee; University of California Press, 1964; as quoted by Francesco Mazzaferro, in 'The Diaries of Paul Klee - Part Three' : Klee as a Secessionist and a Neo-Impressionist Artist http://letteraturaartistica.blogspot.nl/2015/05/paul-klee-ev.html
1903 - 1910

„The eye travels along the paths cut out for it in the work.“

—  Paul Klee

I.13 Productive | Receptive, p. 33
1921 - 1930, Pedagogical Sketch Book, (1925)

„In art, too, there is room enough for exact research... What was accomplished in music before the end of the eighteenth century has hardly been begun in the pictorial field.“

—  Paul Klee

quote of Paul Klee from the text Exact experiments in the realm of art, 1928; as quoted in 'Klee & Kandinsky', 2015 exhibition text, Lenbachhaus und Kunstbau Munich, 2015-2016 https://www.zpk.org/en/exhibitions/review_0/2015/klee-kandinsky-969.html
1921 - 1930

„For the artist communication with nature remains the most essential condition. The artist is human; himself nature; part of nature within natural space.“

—  Paul Klee

Klee's statement written in 1923, in 'Paths of the Study of Natura' (Wage dar Natur studiums), Paul Klee; in Yearbook of the Staatlich. Bauhaus, Weimar, 1919-1923, Bauhaus Verlag, Weimar, 1923
1921 - 1930

„Our initial perplexity before nature is explained by our seeing at first the small outer branches and not penetrating to the main branches or the trunk. But once this is realized, one will perceive a repetition of the whole law even in the outermost leaf and turn it to good use.“

—  Paul Klee

Quote (1904), # 536, in The Diaries of Paul Klee, translation: Pierre B. Schneider, R. Y. Zachary and Max Knight; publisher, University of California Press, 1964
1903 - 1910

„.. I thought I had come into the clear in art when for the first time I was able to apply an abstract style to nature.“

—  Paul Klee

Paul Klee, in an autobiographical text for Wilhelm Hausenstein, 1919; as quoted in 'Klee & Kandinsky', 2015 exhibition text, Lenbachhaus und Kunstbau Munich, 2015-2016 https://www.zpk.org/en/exhibitions/review_0/2015/klee-kandinsky-969.html
1916 - 1920

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