On Modern Art – Paul Klee

In my quest to better understand the power of the unconscious mind and it’s relevance to my work, I was guided to On Modern Art by Paul Klee, by Alan Davie who painted intuitively, and who was fascinated by the work of psychoanalyst Carl Jung.

This slim volume was the basis of a lecture Klee gave at the Museum in Jena in 1924, whilst he was lecturing at the Bauhaus in Germany.  In the introduction Herbert Read comments ‘An art like painting is itself a language – a language of form and colour, in which complex  intuitions are expressed.’

Klee defines art work in terms of Measure (Line), Weight (Tonal Value) and Quality (Colour), where Quality is also Weight (colour value and brilliance) and Measure (limits, area, extent), and Weight is also Measure (extent and boundaries), but Measure is simply line.

Klee refers to the scope of the artist’s enquiry ‘Only for the purpose of comparison, only in the exercise of his mobility of mind.  And not to provide a scientific check on the truth of nature.  Only in the sense of freedom.’ p49

He concludes ‘Sometimes I dream of a work of really great breadth, ranging through the whole region of element, object, meaning and style.  This, I fear, will remain a dream, but it is a good thing even now to bear the possibility occasionally in mind.’p54

A simple message, but if the quest eluded Klee, what hope is there for the rest of us!

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