Saturday, October 28, 2006

Red and Yellow Houses in Tunis

No two artists will see the same colours in a landscape. In 1914 Paul Klee and August Macke travelled to Tunisia. Klee immediately noted the pervasive 'green-yellow-terracotta' but his watercolours also included the white of the houses, the blue of the sky and the pinks and oranges seen in the unpolluted, gentle light of dawn and dusk. Although there are similarities in the two artists' approaches, Macke emphasised 'the blue and white contrast in his Tunisian works' while Klee's watercolours like Red and Yellow Houses in Tunis have 'a warm undercurrent of ochre' and 'a pervasive sand colour'. This, at least is the view of Robert Kudielka in Paul Klee: The Nature of Creation, but it is a subjective judgement: perhaps no two critics will see quite the same colours in a painting...

August Macke, Kairouan (III), 1914
Source: Wikipedia Commons


aurelia said...

Your piece sent me to Paul Klee’s diary of his trip to Tunisia to discover the degree with which he enthuses over the local colour. There is little recorded about specific colours aside from your own quotation - ‘green-yellow-terracotta’ - although he does record at the end of one fruitful day of sketching and painting:

‘An evening of colours as tender as they were clear. ... Colour possesses me. I don’t have to pursue it. It will possess me always, I know it. That is the meaning of this happy hour: Colour and I are one. I am a painter.’ (Felix Klee [ed], The Diaries of Paul Klee, 1964, p 297)

Hels said...

I love the concept of artists seeing very different things in a landscape that they might be sharing. After all, by 1912 Impressionism had certainly stopped being the dominant influence in France, let alone in North Africa.

"Red and Yellow Houses in Tunis" is very different from Macke's "Cafe des Nattes". But both are joyous.

Thanks for the link