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The Golden Fish

Artist: Paul Klee
Created: 1925
Dimensions (cm): 69.0 x 50.0
Format: Oil and watercolor on paper, mounted on cardboard
Location: Kunsthalle, Hamburg, Germany

In 1925, Paul Klee painted an intriguing piece of art entitled ‘The Golden Fish’, a mysterious creature as the center of attention in his water world. It is adorned with strange, notch-like markings that are accented by bright-red fins and a large, powerful eye. This fish dominates in a dark sea of lesser, more weakly-colored fish that appear to be clearing a path for its majesty. The blackness interspersed between the blue water plants signifies the absolute silence and mystery of the deep ocean. Its eeriness brings about the possibility of an undiscovered world that is far more superior to human kind’s realistic and scientific nature. Or, might it not also be the simple, tiny world of a glass aquarium in someone’s house? Because the true meaning of this painting remains unknown, it has most defiantly provoked many theories, and equally many questions over the years. Being a close friend of artist Wassily Kandinsky, it comes as no surprise that Klee’s artwork has also been deemed to possess the ability to “sing.”

Analysis and Quotes

In his book titled “The Shock of the New”, Robert Hughes voices his view on Paul Klee: “Klee tended to see the world as a model, a kind of orrery run up by the cosmic clockmaker - a Swiss God - to demonstrate spiritual truth. This helps account for the toy like character of his fantasies; if the world had no final reality, it could be represented with the freest, most schematic wit, and this Klee set out to do. Hence his reputation as a petit-maître.”

With regards to his creativity, Paul Klee stated: “The creation of a work of art must of necessity, as a result of entering into the specific dimensions of pictorial art, be accompanied by distortion of the natural form. For, therein is nature reborn.”

‘The Golden Fish’ by Paul Klee is currently located at Kunsthalle, Hamburg.


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