Paul Klee: Philosophical Vision, From Nature to Art

Mcmullen Museum of Art, Boston College (2012)

Abstract

When Swiss artist Paul Klee died in 1940, he left behind not only paintings that are a testament to his prodigious skill and vision but also a trove of writings and lectures that highlight his impressive intellectual prowess. Paul Klee: Philosophical Vision: From Nature to Art is the fully illustrated catalog accompanying an eponymous exhibition opening in 2012 at the McMullen Museum of Art that focuses on the philosophical depth of Klee's art. Demonstrating how ideas developed in Klee's written work are realized in his paintings, Paul Kleeputs a keen emphasis on the artist as philosopher, both in his theoretical writings and in his artistic works. Klee's philosophy of nature and of the genesis of natural things is explored, as are the ways in which Klee translated these ideas into form, line, and color. His paintings are also decoded to reveal Klee as an astute critic of modern society, taking up topics as various as the impact of technology on art and the political failures of Germany that led to the rise of Hitler and Nazism. The exhibition and catalog will also look at twentieth- and twenty-first-century philosophers who have discussed Klee's work, including Benjamin, Heidegger, Foucault, and Merleau-Ponty, and will articulate the broad impact that Klee's art has had on recent philosophical thought. This book brings together contributions by an international group of scholars and also includes a new translation of Klee's "On Modern Art." A beautiful and rigorous treatment of one of the twentiethcentury's most famous painters, Paul Klee not only reveals the man himself as a thinker and artist, but also creates a larger paradigm for how philosophical ideas shape art, and vice versa.

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