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Static-Dynamic Gradation
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Paul Klee liked to have fun and that was exactly his intention with Static-Dynamic Gradation.

While teaching at the now famous Bauhaus between 1921 and 1931, Klee created his own art theory, which he called his “Pedagogical Sketchbook.” Klee used this sketchbook of sorts to dutifully recorded his theories and teachings. His time teaching at Bauhaus allowed Klee to have, for the first time in his life, a steady income and a dedicated space to explore new ideas. Luckily for us, the Tate Modern created a blog series that dissects Klee’s teaching theory and “Pedagogical Sketchbook” as well as his own method of creating art during this time frame.

In short, experts have been able to find that Klee implemented a series of six rules in his teaching that include basic algebra, learning perspective, looking to nature for inspiration, finding balance, and knowing your color wheel. Of course, all of these rules could be thrown to the wind if the student or teacher wanted to, but Klee followed these principles in much of his artwork during his time at the Bauhaus.

Which brings me back to Static-Dynamic Gradation. This oil and gouache on paper gives us an idea of Klee’s artistic process. It is stated that this particular work could have been created in conjunction with teaching his students about color theory and balance. Or it could be a math equation with a drop of color theory. Who really knows? But I can guess that Klee was an animated instructor painting alongside his students in a collaborative manner. Oh to be a fly on that wall!

Klee liked to work on multiple paintings at once, switching between canvases on a whim and when inspiration struck. It is estimated that he created over 10,000 works in his lifetime, experimenting with a variety of techniques and mediums and often adding an element of play into both his artwork and teaching. Unfortunately like many artists of the time, this idyllic utopia stopped for Klee with the rise of Hitler. Klee and his family fled to Bern where he developed scleroderma, a fatally debilitating autoimmune disease. It has been stated that out of any artist, Paul Klee is the only one to produce such a high volume of art in one short lifetime, even out-painting Picasso.

Static-Dynamic Gradation has quite the provenance. You know John Bergguren Gallery in San Francisco? Well his father, Heinz Bergguren, purchased 90 works (including Static-Dynamic Gradation) by Klee after his death and before World War II. Later in life, he donated all of his Paul Klee works to the Met in New York City.

 

Sources

Sources

  1. Cohen, Louise. “Klee’s first rule of Bauhaus: you don’t get Bauhaus.” Tate (blog), Tate Modern, January 30, 2014, https://www.tate.org.uk/context-comment/blogs/klees-first-rule-bauhaus-y....
  2. Cohen, Louise. “Klee’s second rule of Bauhaus: rules are made to be broken.” Tate (blog), Tate Modern, February 3, 2014, https://www.tate.org.uk/context-comment/blogs/klees-second-rule-bauhaus-...
  3. Cohen, Louise. “Klee’s third rule of Bauhaus: nature has the answers.” Tate (blog), Tate Modern, February 11, 2014, https://www.tate.org.uk/context-comment/blogs/klees-third-rule-bauhaus-n...
  4. Cohen, Louise. “Klee’s fourth rule of Bauhaus: find your perspective.” Tate (blog), Tate Modern, February 18, 2014, https://www.tate.org.uk/context-comment/blogs/klees-fourth-rule-bauhaus-...
  5. Cohen, Louise. “Klee’s fifth rule of Bauhaus: painting is like Jenga.” Tate (blog), Tate Modern, February 27, 2014, https://www.tate.org.uk/context-comment/blogs/klees-fifth-rule-bauhaus-p...
  6. Cohen, Louise. “Klee’s sixth rule of Bauhaus: know your colour wheel.” Tate (blog), Tate Modern, February 17, 2014, https://www.tate.org.uk/context-comment/blogs/klees-sixth-rule-bauhaus-k...
  7. Rewald, Sabine. “Paul Klee (1879–1940).” In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/klee/hd_klee.htm (October 2004)
  8. Bern and London. “Shape-Shifting - The art of Paul Klee.” The Economist, October 3, 2013. Accessed January 10, 2019, https://www.economist.com/books-and-arts/2013/10/03/shape-shifting.
  9. Pepper, Cynthia. “Static-Dynamic Gradation.” Sartle Rogue Art History. 2018. Accessed January 10, 2019, https://www.sartle.com/artwork/static-dynamic-gradation-paul-klee.