A documentary by Michael Gaumnitz
Available on Netflix
“Prehistory of the visible”, this quote from Klee goes a long way towards encapsulating the understated majesty of this artist’s intuitive prowess.
Although this documentary leans heavily on Klee’s prodigious theoretical and literary capabilities, it’s his formidable draftsmanship skills coupled with an uncanny sense of chromatic harmony that lend themselves so beautifully to the filmic medium.
This well crafted recounting of Klee’s personal, professional, and psychic relationships draws few conclusions on it’s own, but leads us to consider the implications of Klee’s obsessive adherence to detail in his art and note taking, while conveying the intricacy of musical balance, and delicacy of composition that unfold out of a precognitive instinct.
Klee’s observation that “the eye examines the surface like a grazing animal” seems to encourage us to see without searching and to avoid the visual preconditions that inhibit an unencumbered response to unfamiliar symbols.
The inherent dichotomy in Klee’s work of theoretical construct, engineered improvisation and freeform, neo-painterly mark making combine to achieve his sublime sense of equilibrium. The film succinctly exploits this essence of the artist’s process by detailing some of Klee’s tightrope images; metaphors extraordinaire for a balancing act par excellence.
Following Klee’s all too short lifeline, it becomes astounding how prodigious this artist was. Exiled from Nazi Germany as one of the “degenerates” he spent his last days in Switzerland entertaining the likes of Picasso and Kandinsky, and turning out some of his most profound, but humble work. His series of “Angel” sketches stem from line drawings of ethereal, child-like simplicity. They fulfill a lifetime of studiously diligent yet exalted picture making that stimulate our visual cortex with fantastically impossible phantasmagoria.