Paul Klee and Making Secret Visions Visible

Paul Klee, the early 20th century artist whose work reflected impressionism, cubism, and surrealism, gave a lecture On Modern Art during an exhibition of his own work in 1924.  The talk was published as a small book.  Much of the talk was specific to Klee’s own work and somewhat esoteric, but some passages are very relevant to the overall theme of creativity.  I thought this passage in particular was very moving:

Senecio, Paul Klee, 1922

Presumptuous is the artist who does not follow his road through to the end. But chosen are those artists who penetrate to the region of that secret place where primeval power nurtures all evolution. There, where the power-house of all time and space – call it brain or heart of creation – activates every function; who is the artist who would not dwell there? In the womb of nature, at the source of creation, where the secret key to all lies guarded. But not all can enter. Each should follow where the pulse of his own heart leads. So, in their time, the Impressionists – our opposites of yesterday – had every right to dwell within the matted undergrowth of everyday vision. But our pounding heart drives us down, deep down to the source of all. What springs from this source, whatever it may be called, dream, idea or fantasy – must be taken seriously only if it unites with the proper creative means to form a work of art. Then those curiosities become realities – realities of art which help to lift life out of its mediocrity. For not only do they, to some extent, add more spirit to the seen, but they also make secret visions visible.

We sometimes wonder at the “source” of creativity, as Klee indicates when he says “whatever it may be called, dream, idea or fantasy…”  And while he seems to imply that this is a gift only available to a “chosen” few, he also acknowledges that “Each should follow where the pulse of his own heart leads.”  So we all have a unique path to follow.

Without putting too much of my own spin on this, I felt that Klee’s thought-provoking words were worth sharing with anyone interested in exploring creativity.

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