Sunday, November 20, 2011

Paul Klee on Art

I like living (All is Vanity series) by Ingrid Mida 2011
I've been reading a lot about the theories of practice based research in the arts and came across this beautiful passage written by artist Paul Klee:

"The artist has studied this world of variety and has, we may suppose, unobtrusively found his way in it. His sense of direction has brought order into the passing stream of image and experience. This sense of direction in nature and life, this branding and spreading array, I shall compare with the root of the tree.

From the root the sap flows to the artist, flows through him, flows to his eye.

Thus he stands as the trunk of the tree.

Battered and stirred by the strength of the flow, he moulds his vision into his work.

As, in full view of the world, the crown of the tree unfolds and spreads in time and space, so with his work.

Nobody would affirm that the tree grows its crown in the image of its root. Between above and below can be no mirrored reflection. It is obvious that different functions expanding in different elements must produce vital divergences.

But it is just the artist who at times is denied those departures from nature which his art demands. He has even been charged with incompetence and deliberate distortion.

And yet, standing at his appointed place, the trunk of the tree, he does nothing other than gather and pass on what comes to him from the depths. He neither serves or rules - he transmits.

His position is humble. And the beauty at the crown is not his own. He is merely a channel.

...The creation of a work of art - the growth of the crown of the tree - must of necessity, as a result of entering into the specific dimensions of pictorial art, be accompanied by distortion of the natural form, for, therein, is nature reborn."

Source: Paul Klee in On modern art (1948) London: Faber and Faber p. 13-19 as quoted in Art Practice as Research: Inquiry in the Visual Arts by Graeme Sullivan, Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications, 2005

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