ad parnassum paul klee why he did it
Ad Parnassum was painted in 1932, a time when many critics view Klee to have been very much at the peak of his creativity.
For many, though, it is the deep technical complexities which make Ad Parnassum such a special work of art. The huge painting features incredible patches of colour, a sky comprised of beautiful combinations of the colour blue and a very prevalent synergy from the way in which small, identical tiny shapes become part of something much bigger.
He and his family then returned to his hometown of Bern, Switzerland, where he had spent two or three months every summer since moving to Germany.
In 1920, Klee was appointed to the faculty of the Bauhaus under Walter Gropius, where he taught for a decade, first in Weimar until 1925 and then in Dessau, its new location, beginning in 1926, lasting until 1930. In 1930 he was asked to teach at the Prussian State Academy in Dusseldorf, where he taught from 1931 to 1933, when he was fired from his job after the Nazis took notice of him and ransacked his house.
Ad Parnassum (1932) is considered to be Paul Klee’s masterpiece and the best example of his pointillist style; it is also one of his most finely worked paintings. Ad Parnassum was created in the Dusseldorfer period. With 100 x 126 cm (39 x 50 in) it is one of his largest paintings, as he usually worked with small formats. In this mosaic-like work in the style of pointillism he combined different techniques and compositional principles. Influenced by his trip to Egypt from 1928 to 1929, Klee built a colour field from individually stamped dots, surrounded by likewise stamped lines, which results in a pyramid. Above the roof of the “Parnassus” there is a sun. The title identifies the picture as Apollon’s and the Muses’ place.
Around 1930 Klee often made use of this pictorial structure, which recalls the Pointillism of the late nineteen century. ‘Divisionism’ was his name for it. A further geometrical element appears within the ‘divisionist’ structuring – a triangle which, with no definite outline, exists solely by virtue of variations in the tonal gradations applied to the little squares. As a result, the picture seems multi-layered, spatial and suffused with light. One genealog of modern colour-light painting would progress from Georges Seurat to Klee. However, Klee was hardly interested in the theories of colour so essential to Seurat. He simply made use of a pictorial method which, although its possibilities were soon exhausted, helped him to create a number of masterful works.
To be able to assess the level of vibration to which the painting would be subjected on its short trip to the Zentrum Paul Klee, a real-world «dry run» was carried out using a dummy painting, during which measurements were taken and analysed. This dummy was equal in size and weight to the masterpiece and featured a comparable canvas weave of a similar tension. It also sported the original’s frame and was fitted with shatterproof safety glass and protection to the rear. It was transported in an insulated, air-conditioned crate custom-lined with shock-absorbing material. The dummy painting and the interior and exterior of the crate were fitted with sensors that recorded the temperature, humidity and levels of vibration. The crate was shipped in a special air-conditioned truck equipped with air suspension. All in all, these precautions resulted in such low levels of vibration that the go-ahead was given to convey «Ad Parnassum» from the Museum of Fine Arts to the Zentrum Paul Klee.
The works currently on display afford a representative overview of Paul Klee’s development as a painter, from his early pictures and artistic experiments in the late 19th and early 20th centuries to his self-discovery as a painter through his membership of the Blue Rider group, and from his tutorial activities at the Bauhaus between 1921 and 1930 and at the Düsseldorf Academy of Fine Arts to his late work created in Bern between 1934 and 1940. The focus of the exhibition – its crowning glory, if you will – is the masterpiece «Ad Parnassum» (Latin for «at/to Parnassus»), dated 1932, around which the entire exhibition revolves both chronologically and thematically. The items chosen to accompany «Ad Parnassum» were selected for their importance and their capacity to represent the Zentrum Paul Klee collection – many of them are works to which Paul Klee himself gave his seal of approval by inscribing them with the designation «Sonderklasse» (special) and reserving them for his estate collection.
In 1906 he married the pianist Lily Stumpf Klee and they have a son, Felix. The young family lived a very secluded life in Munich. Only over the signatory Alfred Kubin Klee is familiar with the circuit of the “Blue Rider”. Quick includes Klee and Kandinsky and Marc friendship which it combines the belief that artistic creation mentally-spiritual in nature.
He was called only “the unique” by his fellow artists: Paul Klee (1879-1940) shaped the understanding of modern art like no other. With its mosaic composed works, he created a completely new style.