Modern architecture and design took shape in the inter-war period in a German school of Arts and crafts. Directed by the architect Walter Gropius during its first decade, the Bauhaus began its trajectory in 1919 in the city of Goethe, in the provincial Weimar, it experienced its most influential period after it was moved to Dessau, an industrial area where Gropius himself built the emblematic premises, and finalized its route in Berlin, closured by the nazi party that reached power in 1933. The greatest artists, photographers, industrial, graphic and furniture designers passed through its workshops and studies, as well as some of the architects that founded modernity.
Paul Klee incorporated into Bauhaus un 1920, and remained there until 1931, so he experienced both, the most enlightened period of the school —catalyzed by the mystical tendencies of the also Swiss-born Johannes Itten—, and the most rationalist and functional period that began in 1923 under the influence of Van Doesburg and the Dutch Neoplasticism. In the company of his close colleague Wassily Kandinsky, but also of Andreas Feininger, Oskar Schlemmer, Herbert Bayer, Marcel Breuer, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy or the Albers marriage (and of course, of the directors that followed who were also architects: Gropius, Hannes Meyer and Mies van der Rohe), the introverted Klee was part of a pedagogic experience that would transform the contemporary visual culture, and, though the forced exile in the USA of many of its protagonists —Gropius, Mies, Moholy-Nagy, Breuer, Albers— would also disseminate the proposals, transformed into the "Bauhaus style", thoughout the Western world.
"Art does not reproduce what is visible, but makes what is visible". The first sentence by Paul Klee in his "Creative confession", a text from 1920 during his period of full maturity, is a reflexion about the artistic process: about how the construction of work is projected, and a resounding declaration of intentions about the finality of art. Beyond any mimetic submission, Klee sets the objective of plastic arts not in the mere representation, but on the construction of what is visible. If that is the objective, the artist will have to travel through unknown, problematic territories, in the search of that material that has to be embodied like a vision horizon. In my conference PAUL KLEE: THE EQUILIBRIST OF THE VISIBLE, I reconstruct that tension of the uncertain search that has characterized the trajectory of Paul Klee, in both his creative side and his pedagogic activity, specially in the Bauhaus, and in his dense reflexions through writing.
Subject of the pressures of opposing forces, the artist: Klee, acts like an equilibrist balancing over a tight rope crossing emptiness, seeking an equilibrium always difficult to reach. Between the wished stability and the recognition of the petulance of attempting to go further than what the human fragility allows for, Paul Klee refers several times along his career to this figure: the equilibrist, as an expression of the search of those insecure results. Here we stand, in this random world, suspended over emptiness, trying to reach, even beyond our strengths, and with the occasional assistance of all kind of poles that we find along the way, attempting to go further. Trying to see, know, feel: attempting to give shape to the visible.