The Look from Beyond: On Paul Klee's View on Art

Barbarić, Damir (2012) The Look from Beyond: On Paul Klee's View on Art. In: Paul Klee. Philosophical Vision: From Nature to Art. McMullen Museum of Art, Boston College, Boston, pp. 157-163. ISBN 978-1-892850-19-5

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In this essay the author tries to systematically summarize and present the basic theoretical thesis Paul Klee’s about the essence of art. If we extend far enough the original purpose of philosophy as the inquiry after first causes and origins, then it is not too bold to assert that Paul Klee was not only an artist, but also a philosopher. His early diaries, as well as his systematic lectures at the Bauhaus school, present a thinker who not only reflected on his own artistic production, but also did not shy away from posing and attempting to answer philosophical questions in a strict sense. Accordingly, it is quite justified, when he once his own intellectual endeavors describes as the study of sources. Klee was conscious of his closeness to philosophy. He knew that an artist must also be a poet, explorer of nature, philosopher. Klee came bit by bit to the conclusion that the artist was perhaps, without really wanting to be, a philosopher. Klee's deepest insight and the point of departure guiding all of his aesthetic thought expresses itself best in his oft-cited sentence that becoming is more important than being. This world view—for whose realization he fought ceaselessly throughout his life—is thoroughly dynamic. Both the imperceptible world of atoms, as well as the unfathomable totality of the universe, moves unceasingly. Only in between these two extremes, that is, on and around the earth, lays a region of relative rest, the static exception, indeed the exception comprising of human existence and its forms. Earthly beings, including humans, are only an episode within the whole constrained by the strict command of necessity. Captive in their earthly being to the necessity of the static imperative, humans are from the outset blind to the dynamism of the universe. They fall easy prey to the illusion that earthly static laws pertain to the world as a whole. They do not perceive that these laws rest on an accidental material happenstance of the otherwise omnipresent primordial movement and mistake their own earthboundness as a universal norm. With the entire energy of his art, Klee sets himself against this blind, cosmically forgetful adherence to the earth: As he says, this fate of boundness should not deter us from knowing that our existence could also be different, that there are regions where other laws are in force, and that we must find new symbols for these laws to reflect their more fluid mobility and more moveable localities.

Item Type: Book Section
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
Depositing User: Maja Šoštarić
Date Deposited: 13 Nov 2014 09:34
Last Modified: 20 Jan 2021 10:29

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