Paul Klee, Poet/Painter (Studies in German Literature Linguistics and Culture)

Paul Klee, Poet/Painter (Studies in German Literature Linguistics and Culture)

Language: English

Pages: 236

ISBN: 1571133437

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


It is no coincidence that most of the artists at the vanguard of early 20th-century modernist art were poets as well as painters. Paul Klee (1879-1940) was among them. Known today almost exclusively as a visual artist, he was also a poet who experimented across a range of poetic forms. In 1901, while still vacillating between a career as a painter and one as a poet, Klee predicted he would end up expressing himself through the word, "the highest form of art." This first scholarly monograph devoted to Klee's poetry proposes that he lived up to that prediction. It considers poems he identified as such and visual images that are poetic in their compositional techniques, metaphorical imagery, and linear structures. It provides selected examples of Klee's poetry along with English translations that capture the spirit and literal meaning of the German originals. It places the poems and related images within the spectrum of contemporary poetic practice, revealing that Klee matched wits with Christian Morgenstern, rose to the provocations of Kurt Schwitters, and gave new form to the Surrealists' "exquisite corpses." Paul Klee, Poet/Painter is a case study in the reciprocity of poetry and painting in early modernist practice. It introduces a little-known facet of Klee's creative activity and re-evaluates his contributions to a modernist aesthetic. Kathryn Porter Aichele is Associate Professor in the Art Department at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

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Friedrich-Schlegel-Ausgabe (Munich: Ferdinand Schöningh, 1967), 2:176. 14 INTRODUCTION: THE ARTIST (POET/PAINTER) 3 Paul Klee, Tagebücher, 1898–1918, new critical edition, ed. Paul-Klee-Stiftung, Kunstmuseum Bern, comp. Wolfgang Kersten (Stuttgart: Gerd Hatje / Teufen: Arthur Niggli, 1988), #83, 1899–1900, 41; see also The Diaries of Paul Klee, 1898–1918, ed. Felix Klee (Berkeley: U of California P, 1964), 33. Subsequent references to the Tagebücher include the entry number, the date

to try, occasionally matching Morgenstern’s dazzling gift for manipulating every aspect of language. However, he never quite managed to impose his own imprint on Morgenstern’s innovations. The dada poets were more successful in this regard, not simply because they were daring to the point of being outrageous but because they borrowed more sparingly from Morgenstern’s repertoire of poetic devices and images. Despite Klee’s limited engagement with dada as a collective, he had cordial relations with

Khlebnikov’s prediction that “henceforth a work of art could consist of a single word.”108 In the cases of “AIOEK” and “WE,” those words might be characterized as hypograms, a term used by Ferdinand de Saussure to specify a theme word that lends itself to anagrammatic transpositions. Saussure’s research on anagrams encompassed poetry across global cultures, ranging from sacred Vedic texts to Saturnian verse.109 Although Klee would not have had access to Saussure’s unpublished research, he might

poem was first published in Neue Jugend, nos. 11–12 (1917): 243. 53 Gedichte, 9. My transcription restores the layout of page 7 of the notebook of “Geduchte.” Klee’s wordplays and inventions defy a literal translation. 54 Gedichte, 9, reproduced as it is recorded on page 9 of the notebook of “Geduchte.” 55 Tagebücher #1081 A, 442–43 (Diaries, 375); see also fig. 7. 56 See August Stramm, Das Werk, ed. René Radrizzani (Wiesbaden: Limes, 1963), 21. “I AM A POET, AFTER ALL” 61 57 At the

trans. Elizabeth Schwaiger (New York: Prestel, 2001), 35. 60 See Roland Greene, “Sonnet Sequence,” in The New Princeton Handbook of Poetic Terms, ed. T. V. F. Brogan (Princeton, NJ: Princeton UP, 1994), 279. 61 Rilke, sonnet #17, part 2, and sonnet #21, part 2, in Sonnets to Orpheus, trans. David Young (Middletown, CT: Wesleyan UP, 1987), 88–89 and 96–97, resp. 62 Rilke, Sonnets to Orpheus, sonnet #10, part 1, 20–21; sonnet #5, part 2, 64–65. 63 Rilke, Sonnets to Orpheus, sonnet #15, part

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