02 February 2009

A Conversation with Miró, on Klee

“I have been told,” continued Miró, “that Klee was always working, and that even when he was talking to his friends his drawing hand was busy,” he made the movements of doodling, “wherever there was a scrap of paper.”

While I was at the Düsseldorf Academy, I had studied under Klee for a time. I had plenty of opportunity to watch him. I never noticed him drawing while talking to friends. On the contrary, absent-minded and unapproachable as he appeared when alone, he gave his concentrated attention to anyone he happened to be talking to in his studio, a café or his large room in the boarding-house beyond the Academy garden. Every word he uttered, even his witticisms, bore witness to profound thought. I never heard Klee chatting conversationally.

I told Miró how I used to be able to look from my studio at the Düsseldorf Academy, which was on the third floor, into the window of Klee’s studio in a projecting section of the building one storey lower. I often used to see him sitting there bent over his work. His drawing table was close to the window. He could spend hours at it, looking, meditating, drawing. Every movement was made slowly, as though every fraction of an inch cost him an effort.

Miró looked at me approvingly. “I could never believe it. Everything in his works looks prepared and planned. The painter must be alone when he is working, mustn’t he? He needs a quiet room — and order. I need order, otherwise I can’t do anything. When I think of Picasso’s studio . . . !” He clapped his hands together. “What chaos!” He drew a deep breath. “That would be impossible for me!”

Walter Erben


james porter said...

Thanks so much for this post. I've been womdering about the relationship between Klee and Miro and this entry does a lot to elucidate that.

Karl Henning said...

Thanks for reading!