Colour Wheel

Nature ⸰ Joy ⸰ Love ⸰ Connection ⸰ Passion
Paul Klee GIFTBEEREN 1920

Colour Wheel’s image Giftbeeren (poisonberry in German) is a joyful combination of vibrant colour, bold then delicate shapes, veering between the abstract and the figurative.

Felix Klee described his father, Paul’s, favourite outing to Wörlitz near Dessau - an inspiration for much of his plant painting: it was ‘surrounded by an enchanting park full of lakes and watercourses that made the visitor forget the monotony of the surrounding Elbe flatlands. We strolled past Aeolian harps and exotic giant trees, across rickety footbridges, and took the ferries to the islands. Here Paul Klee was thoroughly in his element, and many of his pictures with plant or water subjects were the outcome of visits to this wonderful park’ 

In Klee’s “Creative Credo” (1920), he states, “Art does not reproduce the visible; rather, it makes visible,”. With Giftbeeren Klee jolts us into our consideration of the common, unremarkable poisonberry. Supplanting a naturalistic green backdrop, he uses, red, vermillion (its intrinsically connected opposite in Klee’s colour theory system).  

It imbues the painting with vitality, and life.The colour of blood and fire gives the subject a mystic super real quality which simultaneously increases the physicality of the berries for us. Klee gives the scene a warm beating pulse that we feel we can touch.

Paul Klee thought that there were many other realities man could experience, but fundamentally, all was connected in a unity, a oneness. He saw nature as an expression of this oneness and like the writer for Colour Wheel, Wordsworth, communion with her, loving her, is a way to the sublime, to harmony and truth. 

William Wordsworth 'Tintern Abbey' 1860

The artist for Colour Wheel, Paul Klee believed that nature was a way for man to reach other kinds of realities - and a way to connect to a universal oneness that encompassed all things. 

The words of Colour Wheel are from a poem which describes its writer’s journey of realization that access to a sublime, deeper truth springs from his experiences of nature. 

Tintern Abbey was written by Wordsworth after a walking tour with his sister. He describes his experiences of the countryside surrounding the banks of the River Wye, which grows into a portrayal of his overall philosophy.

The poem is probably the most celebrated meditation on the self, the pastoral, and the growing of wisdom over time to be found in all of English literature. It’s a quintessential work of Romanticism.

Wordsworth describes in the poem how in "thoughtless youth" he had dashed exuberantly about that same countryside and it is only now that he realizes the power the landscape has continued to have upon him, even when not there physically;

...a sense sublime
Of something far more deeply interfused,
Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns,
And the round ocean and the living air,
And the blue sky, and in the mind of man;
A motion and a spirit, that impels
All thinking things, all objects of all thought,
And rolls through all things.

He also sees this nature as

The anchor of my purest thoughts, the nurse,
The guide, the guardian of my heart, and soul
Of all my moral being.

Later in the poem we see an explicit crossover of the philosophies of the artist and writer of Colour Wheel. Its artist, Paul Klee, stated in his work “Creative Credo” (1920);

Art does not reproduce the visible; rather, it makes visible

Nature being an inherent part of this ‘making visible’ as Klee believed that all art, including abstract, should spring from nature.

Wordsworth states in Tintern Abbey that landscapes he’s experienced have given him even more than restoration and inspirational nourishment of the soul;

To them I may have owed another gift,
Of aspect more sublime; that blessed mood,
In which the burthen of the mystery,
In which the heavy and the weary weight
Of all this unintelligible world,
Is lightened…

….While with an eye made quiet by the power
Of harmony, and the deep power of joy,
We see into the life of things.

Wordsworth's experiences of nature enable him to look beyond surface appearance and gain insight into a deeper level of existence.