Art In History Art Blog
This will be the third in my series of favorite artists, and I am still following the theme of the major challenge in an artist's enterprise which raises the work from good to great. In this case, however, it is a quiet artist working on a modest scale without earthshaking impact.
Klee's work is nothing if not unpretentious and personal. There is no sense that he was speaking to a wider audience than the one which would seek him out in his artistc seclusion. So why do I put him in a category with someone like Rembrandt?
For me, Klee's work is a marvellous marriage of the analytical and the intuitive. Every drawing seems to be exploring the essential nature of the fundamental elements of line, tone and color in their simplest forms, and yet each at the same time grows spontaneously out of the whimsical demands of the last stroke or color applied. I think I would love the work for the whimsy alone, but I can come back to it repeatedly for its deconstruction of the artist's process and the nature of line, form and color on a surface.
At times he is almost totally abstract, seeming to fit comfortably in the analytic tradition of Mondrian. But even then he is not seeking to remove all indication of in ideosynchratic maker, as mondrian is; I can feel him there, his mind and his intuition.
In his later years, his mood turned dark, and the character of his work changes from a whimsical delight to a menacing and forboding threat. Certainly events in Germany in those years would be enough to account for the change. But it strikes me that even then what serves him in conveying his new message is his old stalwarts: Line, form and color, still isolated into essential building blocks.
If you want to retire into quiet conversation with a work of art, go and look at a Klee. It's greatness is not advertised on the marquee outside, so you will need to go looking.