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Little jester in a trance

Painting, 1929, 50×35 cm

Description of the artwork «Little jester in a trance»

Paul Klee liked to repeat to students as a task: "Send the line for a walk". Since 1918, Klee was a teacher in the bookbinding workshop. Bauhaus, an avant-garde school of construction and artistic design, and from 1922 headed two workshops at once: stained glass and wall painting. But, like most of the teachers of the famous German school, he was engaged in the development of the creative individuality of each student rather than the technical aspects of the craft. Offering students to send the line for a walk, Klee turned to their abilities of intuitive work, their thirst for adventure, their willingness to experiment, their fearlessness in front of a blank sheet of paper.

"Little jester in a trance" - the real line sent for a walk through unknown spaces. The jester's figure is drawn in one continuous line, as if unintentionally and without serious intention to depict something definite. It was as if the artist set himself the goal of examining an unexpectedly tantalized object in random handwritings. How children look at the wallpaper patterns — and find dogs, elephants and tigers there. This might look like on a google-map the route of a tourist who wandered around the forest for a couple of days in search of some rare bird or plant. It would look like a bizarre, rarely used hieroglyph, denoting a little jester in a trance, in some ancient lost writing.

Sometimes it seems that Paul Klee is just joking. Sometimes he really jokes. Excessive “infantilism” has always been the most common criticism of Klee’s work. Art critics and viewers, who are extremely serious, reproached him for his child's ineptitude, which the artist flaunts without hesitation. How, in the end, you can take seriously the work, which seemed to be accidentally inscribed on the margins of the notebook, while listening to a boring lecture. Children's doodles. For Klee, this comparison sounded like a compliment. For inspiration and creative discoveries, he preferred to go to the nursery or to the ethnographic museums in the halls with the ancient primitive art, rather than to the academic classes, where they carefully copy plaster heads.

So, in one line, he could draw anything: portrait, flower, brother and sister, magician,man of the future or even wind. But, of course, not limited to this artistic technique. During his time at the Bauhaus, Klee developed, tested, discovered and tested an impressive set of stylistic techniques, techniques, ways of imaging. The years of teaching at Bauhaus are the most productive for him: he has a spacious workshop at his disposal, he can work not only on the artist, but also as a practicing art teacher and theorist, he is surrounded by like-minded people and friends, he participates in large exhibitions and becomes famous outside Germany . But just in 1929, when the "Fool in a Trance" was written, he increasingly thinks about leaving Bauhaus. Appears less and less in the classroom, causing a wave of discontent on the part of students, many of whom sought to go to school for the sake of Klee’s lessons. Bauhaus requires full commitment, absolute participation in all common projects and plans. And the 50-year-old Paul Klee, running off to another vacation, writes to the school authorities that he is first and foremost an artist - and needs new impressions. In one of the letters to his wife, Klee complains: “The demands from inside and outside are so high that I can lose all sense of time. My unclean conscience faithfully follows me, something always gnaws at me — art, school, the worldly side of life. ”.

In 1930, a few years before Hitler came to power, he would leave work in Bauhaus - and the route of his further voluntary and forced moves and escapes could have been formed on a google-map into a quaint hieroglyph, denoting a great artist living in difficult times.

Author: Anna Sidelnikova
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About the artwork

Art form: Painting

Subject and objects: Portrait, Genre scene

Technique: Watercolor, Oil

Materials: Canvas

Date of creation: 1929

Size: 50×35 cm

Artwork in selections: 5 selections

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