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Paul Klee: Trees and the Art of Life

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image of Research in Phenomenology

AbstractThe artist understands his work as intimately connected with the life and symbolism of plants. Art, thus, demands an attunement to life’s elemental operations, the thrust “into dimensions far removed from the conscious process.” The first part of the present essay aims at recovering what is implied in the imagery of trees, delving into ancient archives of dormant collective memories and immemorial imaginal stratifications. The second and third parts, deploying the re-energized figure of the tree, explore the theme of the relation between art and life, indeed, what Klee calls the “art of life.” By reference to Klee’s 1924 Jena lecture and the artist’s diaries, the discussion addresses the intersecting themes of artistic formation, mindful self-formation, the vital importance of worldly roots, and the transcendent fragrance of flowers and fruits.

Affiliations: 1: Università di Milano-Bicocca


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