Around the Fish Paul Klee Buy Art Prints Now
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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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Around the Fish

Paul Klee, the Swiss-born painter, constructed this unique and undeniably fascinating oil in 1926, which today hangs in the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

Around the Fish has a variety of elements scattered around a platter of fish, all against a sombre, dark background. The striking blue plate and the reds and yellows used, combine to give a colourful contrast; the effect is indeed bold.

It is intriguing however, that the transparent cylindrical shapes have just as much an effect, and yet they are pale in comparison.

In deciphering the items scattered around the platter of fish it can be noticed that they are not obviously connected. There is a crescent and full moon, a cross, an exclamation mark and a red flag; random objects that for him had meaning. Paul Klee used arrows in his art teaching at the German Art School Bauhaus, to portray force and feelings.

In this case the prominent red arrow points animatedly towards the face which has evolved out of the flower. Consequently, attention is driven to that particular aspect of his work.

His own beliefs and values are vividly portrayed in this painting as he emphasises the need to look beyond, and that knowledge is not always based on what the external or outer characteristics suggest. He saw art as a window and his work reflects this.

The artist himself was a bit of an eccentric, using the abstract and the subconscious to make meaning. His artistic talents were not as much appreciated then as they are now, and recently he has been named together with Picasso by some. The alluring traits of Around the Fish make you sit back and pause to wonder. Paul Klee went deep and he encourages his audience to go deeper. In this particular painting there are also similarities to the work of Wassily Kandinsky and the Joan Miro (see Red Sun).