Memory and Identity in Art


Musical Inspiration in the trandence of Abstraction in the Early 20th Century: The Question of Time and Rhythm in the Analogy Between Painting and Music








In the modern art trend of the early twentieth century, many artists gave up the traditional objective depiction of nature, in order to explore new and innovative possibilities. Some artists try to extract inspiration from music, the most spiritual and most abstract art, as a reference for creating art.

However, such attempts are also varied and complicated. Some only portrait the various scenes of music concerts or fragments of the images of different instruments or musical line on the score; some would improvise with picturale elements onto the canvas from the sensation of Listening to music; some choose specific pieces to express a programmatic idea; some analyze from a rational and scientific perspective, and then visualize the structure or characteristics of the music in their works.

This article will discuss the time and space in the analogy between painting and music, and the expressions of rhythm in painting. The article takes the reference from the artworks and statements of two early twentieth-century painters—Paul Klee and Frantisek Kupka.

Kupka proposed the "Impressional duration," for instance, that involves the arrangement of elements in the painting and the phenomenon of internal perception of viewers. Klee, as another example, believed that time was involved in the movement and transition in a painting from creation to its being appreciated by viewers. And the multi-directions of time in painting is more flexible than the one-direction of time in music.

Finally, the article discusses rhythm, one of the aesthetic principles, and the understanding of rhythm of these two painters in their artworks. In particular, Klee's dividual rhythm and Individual rhythm, like the opposition and complementarity of the two natures, regularity and variety, show the similarity between ancient and modern aesthetic views, and establish one of his own unique features of creation.

Their experience reflects certain ideological basis in the abstract art of the early twentieth century.


Musicality, Rhythm, Impressional duration, Dividual rhythm, Individual rhythm