Happy Birthday Paul Klee

Twittering Machines took its name from the Paul Klee work “Twittering Machine” (Die Zwitscher-Maschine), from 1929. Today is the anniversary of Mr. Klee’s birth, December 18, 1879, so an appreciation is in order. Enjoy!

All quotes by Paul Klee unless otherwise noted.

From my essay on “Twittering Machines” published in Inner Audio Magazine:

The frailty of Paul Klee’s machine, the absurdity of a drawing of a mute machine, captive birds perpetually in wait for a hand to set them in motion reads within this historic context as a wry comment on the machine propagandists of the time; the Party, the Movement, the Manifesto and the machine made for twittering. The Bauhaus Buddha reflects on the state of things and comes out chirping.

Woman and Beast / Weib und Tier anagoria (1905)

In earlier versions of ‘Woman and Beast’ the woman suffered too much. Later I gave her that not altogether disgusted expression. Dissertations could be written about the significance of the ‘ugliness’ of my figures.’

Lovers (1920)
The worst state of affairs is when science begins to concern itself with art.
Burdened Children (1930)
A drawing is simply a line going for a walk.
Walpurgis Night (1935)

To emphasize only the beautiful seems to me to be like a mathematical system that only concerns itself with positive numbers.

Postcard for Bauhaus Lantern Party 1922

Color is the place where our brain and the universe meet.


Beautiful gardener (1939)

The art of mastering life is the prerequisite for all further forms of expression, whether they are paintings, sculptures, tragedies, or musical compositions.

Christian Sectarian (1920)

From my essay:

Twittering Machine has not changed over the decades since I first saw it. I have. And with the luxury of time, reflection and research, Twittering Machine has grown to be more than a chuckle, even more than a giggle. I’ve accepted Paul Klee’s invitation “Art does not reproduce the visible but makes visible” and allowed my mind to wander from what I thought I knew to things I’m only beginning to understand. I’ve allowed my present to inform and in return be informed by this moment from the past. And for that, I’m thankful for Paul Klee and his walking line. And because of that perpetual unknowing I can laugh heartily, out loud, while turning that internal crank like an organ grinder dreaming of opera.

Cover image: “May Picture”, Paul Klee. Oil on cardboard, 16 5/8 x 19 1/2 in. (1925)