Paul Klee. From Structural Analysis and Morphogenesis to Art

in Research in Phenomenology
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This contribution illuminates the meaning of the systematic confrontation with nature in the artistic and art-theoretical thought of Paul Klee. Klee’s specific interest lay in the analysis of the morphological and structural principles of plants as well as in the study of the processes of growth and form in nature. A central element of this confrontation—which also manifested itself in nuanced ways in Klee’s teaching at the Bauhaus and in his artistic creations—is the reduction of the manifold natural world of appearance to structural and morphological principles which can be freely and creatively reassembled. These principles form the foundation for Klee’s process-oriented understanding of nature and art.

Paul Klee. From Structural Analysis and Morphogenesis to Art

in Research in Phenomenology




“Autobiographische Texte 1920” Leopold Zahn in Paul Klee Tagebücher 1898–1918 textkritische Neuedition hrsg. von der Paul-Klee-Stiftung Kunstmuseum Bern bearb. von Wolfgang Kersten (Stuttgart: Hatje 1988) 520 (my translation). Hereafter cited as TB.


Ibid. no. 874 p. 244.


“Autobiographische Texte 1919” Wilhlem Hausenstein II in Klee TB 513 (my translation).


Ibid. no. 873 p.244. At about the same time Vassily Kandinsky also used the metaphor of the chromatic piano in his seminal work Concerning the Spiritual in Art: “Generally speaking colour is a power which directly influences the soul. Colour is the keyboard the eyes are the hammers the soul is the piano with many strings” (Vasily Kandinsky Über das Geistige in der Kunst [Munich: R. Piper 1912) 49; translated by M. T. H. Sadler as Concerning the Spiritual in Art (New York: Dover Publications 1977) 25. Translation first published 1914.


Paul Klee“Die Ausstellung des Modernen Bundes im Kunsthaus Zürich,” Die Alpen 6 no. 12 (August 1912): 696–704 in Paul Klee Schriften Rezensionen und Aufsätze hrsg. v. Christian Geelhaar (Köln: DuMont 1976) 107 (my translation). Hereafter cited as Schriften.


Wilhelm OstwaldEinführung in die Farbenlehre (Leipzig: Philipp Reclam1919). Vgl. Wolfgang Kersten “Paul Klee: ‘ich und die Farbe sind eins.’ Eine historische Kritik” Kunst-Bulletin des Schweizerischen Kunstvereins no. 12 (Dezember 1987): 10–14.


Paul Klee“Die Farbe als Wissenschaft,” Das Werk: Mitteilungen des Deutschen Werkbundes 1 Farben-Sonderheft (Oktober 1920): 8 (my translation).


Klee“Über die moderne Kunst” 13.


KleeBeiträge zur bildnerischen Formlehre55; see also: (my translation).


René Crevel“Merci, Paul Klee, ” Le Centaure3. ann. (December 1928) 50f.


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    Paul Klee, schoolbook, Zoology I Avertebrata, 1895
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    Paul Klee, Diary, Plant with two branches a and b, 1906
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    Paul Klee, When God Considered the Creation of the Plants, 1913, 176 Paul Klee, Als Gott sich mit der Erschaffung der Pflanzen trug, 1913, 176 Pen, pencil, and watercolor on paper on cardboard, 15 × 21.5 cm Eva-Maria W. Worthington Gallery, Inc., Chicago
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    Paul Klee, Creation plan 23436 G (blossoms), 1917, 59 Paul Klee, Schöpfungsplan 23436 G (Blüten), 1917, 59 Pencil on lined paper on cardboard, 14.6 × 17.5 cm Paul-Klee-Stiftung, Kunstmuseum, Bern
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    Paul Klee, Number trees, 1918, 198

    Paul Klee, Zahlenbäume, 1918, 198

    Pencil and pen on paper on cardboard, 16.4 × 12.3 cm

    Paul-Klee-Stiftung, Kunstmuseum, Bern
  • View in gallery
    Paul Klee, Beiträge zur Bildnerischen Formlehre (Contributions to a Theory of Form), delivered on 22 February 1922
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    Paul Klee, Teaching notes at pictorial creation (leaf structure), lecture of 29.10.1923
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    Paul Klee

    Pictorial Creation: II.19 Progressions

    Bildnerische Gestaltungslehre: II.19 Progressionen

    Pencil and colored pencil on paper, 33 × 21 cm

    Zentrum Paul Klee, Bern

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