Jerry Flint’s 2001 speech to engineers and technicians at General Motors’ Milford Proving Ground.
(With thanks to Paul Eisenstein, editor of TheDetroitbureau.com, who provided this copy from his files.)
There was an auto executive, he was a very high-ranking GM man. You all know his name but I won’t mention it because it might embarrass him. He’s not at General Motors anymore.
I once asked this man what he would do if he found himself the chief executive of General Motors. He said, and I quote, "I would fire 1,000 executives." I’m not sure whether it made any difference to him which 1,000 executives, if he had anyone in particular in mind, or any thousand would do. I just tell you this to start things off.
Fasten your seatbelts. It’s going to get bumpy.
This talk will be divided into four sections. In the first, I will tell you something about myself. That’s long. In the second I will tell you the mistakes General Motors has been making. That’s longer. In the third part, I will tell you why General Motors makes these mistakes. That’s short. In the fourth part, much shorter I am afraid, I will suggest what you can do about it.
I was born in Detroit, in the city, in 1931. We lived on Willis between Second and Third, a few blocks south of Wayne University, which was a city university back then.
I went to the neighborhood schools, tough schools; it was a workers hillbilly neighborhood. As a boy, my father and I would walk miles from our apartment to the Fisher Theater to see the movies, and we walked to save the nickel busfare. We would always stop at the General Motors building to look at the cars, and the models. They used to have a contest. Young people would enter futuristic car designs, or make a copy of a Louis the 14th carriage. I loved that GM display, and dreamed of the day we would have a car.
We moved uptown and I went to Central High School, where by the way, a classmate was Sander Levin, now a member of the House of Representatives and brother to Carl, your senator. Then I came Wayne University, worked as a copy boy on the Detroit News, as a writer for Motor News, the AAA magazine and on the college daily. When I graduated after 3 1/2 years, in 1953, I enlisted in the U.S. Army. The Korean War was on but I served in Europe, in intelligence, in what we called the Army Security Agency.
When I came home in 1956, I joined the Wall Street Journal in Chicago, and in 1958 transferred to Detroit. I worked for the Journal in Detroit until 1967, when I became the New York Times bureau chief in Detroit and I held that position until 1973, when I transferred to New York for the Times, working the national news, then as a financial editor, then the national labor writer. In 1979, I joined Forbes magazine as its Washington bureau chief, and in the 1980s transferred to New York where I worked in various jobs, including assistant managing editor. I retired in 1996, but now write columns, six a month, one for Forbes Magazine monthly called Backseat Driver, plus a weekly column for Forbes.com, plus as monthly column for Ward’s Auto World, the Contrarian, and a monthly column for The Car Connection.com.
I haven’t just written about cars. I’ve covered politics, and am mentioned in "The Making of the President," 1968, by William White. Along the way I’ve done some foreign reporting, chasing Communists in Central America during the Carter/Reagan years. I’ve swung through Africa, Somalia, Nigeria, Angola, South Africa.
Recently I was named one of the top 100 financial journalists of the century by TJFR, a financial journalists group. I was ranked along with the likes of Ida Tarbell (the great muckraker who brought down the Standard Oil Trust), B.C. Forbes (founder of Forbes Magazine), Barney Kilgore, the creator of the modern Wall Street Journal. I tell you this so you will understand that I just may know what I am talking about.
As to the auto business, I was there when Ed Cole created the Corvair and there when John DeLorean created the GTO that Ronny and the Daytonas sang about. I was there when Karl Hahn taught us to "think small" about his beetle-shaped Volkswagen, and I was there when George Romney brought forth the compact Rambler and slew the dinosaurs in the driveway. I was there when the Edsel was born, and when Bob McNamara of Vietnam fame created the little Ford Falcon, the first car to really kick Chevy since the 1920s. And better yet, I was there when Lee Iacocca introduced his Mustang. I was there when Soji Hatori brought Toyota here. Soji, by the way, dumped his Japanese wife and married an American blonde in a blimp over Los Angeles. I was there when Studebaker owned rights to distribute Mercedes cars in this country, and I was there in Utah when Sherwood Egbert sent his lovely Avantis racing across the Salt Flats in a last doomed effort to save Studebaker.
I drove Ralph Nader into Detroit from the airport when he came with his new book, "Unsafe at Any Speed," and I knew Haagen Smit, who explained smog, and Bill Mitchell who knew how to make cars look long and low for General Motors. I was there when Lee (Iacocca) saved Chrysler with his K car and the minivan, and yes, I advised my readers to buy Chrysler stock when it was at 7 on its way down to 3. I was there when Tom Gale and Bob Lutz did cab forward (car design), and saved Chrysler again, and yes, I told my readers to buy Chrysler again at 10.
I do all this name dropping so you know that I know the difference between cars made of steel and cars made of clay, and more important, that I know the difference between men made of steel and men made of clay.
OK, end of Part 1. Now I am going to talk about General Motors.
You won’t like what I have to say.
You are badly led, with an organization that just doesn’t work.
I’m going to prove this to you, and my proof is an unparalleled number of errors, mistakes and failures.
This isn’t a new theme with me. In Wards Auto World of May 1998 I raised the question of GM strategy. I noted that you had a strategy board that didn’t know anything about auto strategy
I wrote that your strategy board had decided that luxury sport-utility vehicles had no place in the company’s own Cadillac division, thereby going about as far as anyone could to destroy Cadillac. This isn’t hindsight. Mercedes, BMW and Lexus all understood what was happening at the same time that GM rejected a Cadillac SUV, and they created SUVs, and so did Lincoln.
Quoting from that column on Saturn: "The board is taking seven years to get Saturn a second car, (it really took 10 years) thereby leaving its most warm and fuzzy division to wallow in a small-car depression. Instead of investing in success, this board starved it."
You know, they took away the Saturn’s product engineers. They are out to make Saturn into another Oldsmobile. Look at the LS launch. First, the idea of forcing Saturn to use a German platform designed for a metal body on a car with a plastic body is ludicrous. It cost more and took longer to do than to get a completely new platform for Saturn. Then the car design was completely undistinguished, and the actual launch was the worst I have ever seen in 40 years. The result is that sales are one-third expectations in the first year and the factory lost a shift. I figure that is a 0-million-a-year loss.
This is the board that has never updated and will soon kill the Camaro. That should take a good part of the excitement from Chevrolet. GM executives don’t seem to understand that the art in the auto business is building desirable vehicles, not killing models and closing plants.
Your strategy board completely missed the trend to car-based all-wheel drive vehicles, and is years behind the Lexus RX 300, the Honda CR-V and the like. Even Ford is in production of the Escape. How many more years must we wait for such a GM vehicle?
Now let’s go beyond that 2 1/2- year-old article:
Your management built an all-new pickup truck without four doors, when Dodge and Ford and Toyota all had four-door big pickups. To this day, no one at GM admits to have made that decision. It must have been someone they promoted. How could they build an all-new vehicle with three doors when they knew their competitors would have four?
How could they be a door short on an all-new vehicle?
Your company still doesn’t have a four-door small pickup. That is unbelievable. Ranger creams them. If Dodge Dakota had the capacity, it probably would outsell the Chevy S-10. I asked one of your highest-ranking executives why no four-door S-10. He explained that since a new S-10 was coming a few years down the road, they didn’t want to spend the money. Your people never, it seems, have heard the word "competition." Now about a month ago you did begin production of a Chevy S-10 Crew Cab. That is a type of four-door, but different from the usual design. In fact, this is a vehicle you build in Brazil, so you could have produced it here earlier. And it is priced ,000 above the two-door.
I’m sure they will sell some, but why are they years late in matching the competition? There is only one answer: incompetence.
Just to repeat what I am doing now, I am listing dumb decisions by your management that proves they know nothing about the auto business.
The EV-1. I am all for experimentation, but to spend 0 million to 0 million for a two-seater with a 40-mile range, are we out of our minds? That is the greatest car disaster ever, covered up by the press because it’s a green disaster. The EV-1 makes the Edsel look like a bases-loaded home run in the last of the ninth of the seventh game of the World Series.
Once the then-chief executive of your company, Jack Smith, said to me, and I quote, "You don’t think we can do anything right." I told him that I did think they did one thing right; they did a good job cutting manufacturing costs. And guess what? They’ve fired the man who did it, Don Hackworth.
And talking about strategy boards, did you know that the chief of design is not on the GM global strategy board, but your vice president of human resources is? That’s right: the global strategy board, the head of design isn’t on it but the head of the employment office is. Go figure.
Brand marketing. I don’t think much of brand marketing theories. To me they are just a way of avoiding the idea of building a better product. I suppose that if your idea of a new model change is putting six more raisins in a box of cereal, then brand marketing might be important. But even if I did believe, the idea that every single car model is a brand is incredibly dumb. No one in the industry believes this, except at GM. The idea that Chevy Impala is a separate brand, that Chevy Monte Carlo is a brand, that Cavalier is a brand, that Malibu is a brand is nutsy coo-koo. You can’t have 75 brands within GM. It won’t work, but it has been the GM strategy. And what’s the result of this strategy? Falling market share every year this management has been in power.
Look at the numbers. Your management has lost an average 3/4 of a percent point of market share very year, from 35% to down toward 28% this year. My belief is that you are headed to 25% of the market. I would also predict that before long someone high will "take the fall" for this loss, which I put directly on the top management and its theories.
Supplier relations: Your company has the poorest supplier relations in the industry, and a reputation of mistreating suppliers, of trying to beat down their prices unfairly. If someone comes up with a great innovation, GM is the last company it will try to sell it to for these reasons. I have had the CEO of major suppliers say this. Yet this is how your management does business.
Another disaster was the strike of 1998, which cost GM, I believe, better than billion in profit. General Motors provoked that strike. Look, I covered the UAW in Detroit. I knew Walter Reuther and Leonard Woodcock and Doug Fraser. I knew the company negotiators like Malcolm Denise of Ford and Earl Bramlett of GM. I was the labor writer of the New York Times. GM deliberately proved the strike. I’m not saying that was wrong. It is OK to provoke a strike, and GM had some justification But when GM was 24 hours from winning, the company surrendered. Apparently GM decided that winning would hurt the UAW’s feelings. Why provoke a strike unless you intend to win? Why surrender when victory is in your grasp. At a cost of billion. The performance of your management was unbelievable here.
How about the dealer ordering system, which was installed by present management? The company has been in business since 1907, and it sets up a system that keeps dealers from getting the cars they need. This cost GM one-half of a percent of market share, which is 85,000 sales, or billion in sales. How could your management install an ordering system that didn’t work? How?
Fit and finish. Look, the quality of your fit and finish is the worst in the industry, excluding Koreans. Your executives know it, too, but what are they doing about it? I’ll know they are doing something when an executive vice president is given the public responsibility of improving fit and finish, and his bonus is on the line.
The dealers. You want to know something? The only reason you are still selling 28% of the market is your dealers. The biggest distribution system in the business. And your management hates them. They actually announced a plan to buy 15% of the GM dealers, to go into competition with their own dealers, and then when the dealers blew up, your chief executive said he didn’t know anything about it. Well, GM is disorganized but I don’t believe that Roy Roberts invented and publicly announced a billion-dollar acquisition plan all by himself.
Design: What do you want me to say? GM invented car design: Harley Earl, Bill Mitchell. I knew some of these people. Now, you have the Aztek.
For God’s sake, why couldn’t they hire somebody. Ford did, Chrysler did, Mercedes and BMW did, they all do (not the Japanese. Their designers really are Japanese). Now GM did hire someone from the outside, a French woman from Renault. Now I like French women, and I wish her well, I am sure she is talented. But please explain to me who buys French Renaults besides the French … and a few Spaniards. Who? Nobody. Why can’t GM find an American who understands the American culture, and who can create a PT Cruiser, or a Thunderbird? Why do they hire a foreigner?
I ask you, if you didn’t work for GM, would you drive a GM car?
Let’s get specific: How about that pickup truck design. You know, that’s where the money is, the T800 platform. The pickup is the heart of it. You used to be No. 1 in pickups, now you are behind Ford F-150 and Dodge Ram has scored big off Chevy. So you designed a new truck, darn good truck, too, except for the rattles. But when it came to design, they made it look like the old one. You know why? Because instead of relying on your designers to design a modern-looking truck, you took the designs to focus groups, and they picked the old look. So your new truck looks dated when it comes out, and in a couple of years will really look dated. And as noted earlier, they forgot to put four doors on it at first. These are the reasons I believe your Silverado sales are less than expected, why you are rebating it.
Then we have the Pontiac Aztek. I’m not going to dump on it, and I hope it catches on. I hear it’s a dud, but you never can tell. But I have never, never seen such dislike of a vehicle design, never.
Look, even the future stuff, the show cars, they just don’t look right. I know it and you know it. Why hasn’t this management done something about it?
Oldsmobile: Look, Olds is dead. Your management is saying that they did everything possible and it’s up to the dealers and the customers to save Olds. Those are code words. Figure five years and gone. They did give Olds new product, but it was product without any design distinction, without any engineering firsts, a new engine that wasn’t better than the competition, and mediocre quality and inexperienced leadership. Hell, they fired the experienced leadership. Remember the Rock, John Rock? The head of Olds today used to sell Alpo dog food. You figure it out. Five years and dead. Why five years? It’s a legal strategy. Starve it to death so sales fall, so we can’t be sued.
Cadillac. Let’s not go over 15 years of disaster. Let’s just say that I’ve seen the new Catera, to be built in a new plant in Lansing. But where’s the new motor? The old German motor was one of the Catera problems, and they are putting that old engine in the new car, maybe with a horsepower boost. That’s not the way to save Cadillac. The car needs a great engine and it doesn’t have one. And I understand that rushing out the Escalade was to save the dealers, but in the long run it reinforced the idea that Caddy is a Chevy with thicker leather. BMW builds an all new X-5. Mercedes builds an all- new ML 320. Caddy gets a redone Tahoe. If they could create new vehicles, and even new factories, why couldn’t GM? Some management.
True story: One of the most important businesswomen in America decided to buy an SUV. Her name is known to all of your directors. She’s big. She asked a friend of mine if he could get her some to test drive. He said he could and would get her a Cadillac Escalade.
She said to him, and this is the quote: "Don’t insult me."
The Escalade isn’t a bad vehicle. It’s quite OK. But the prestige of Cadillac is so low that a well-known person says that being offered a Cadillac to drive is an insult.
Which brings us to Powertrain. Would someone tell me what Powertrain has been doing for 20 years?
You know, a while back GM was the greatest engine maker in the world, the greatest. Then some jackass stuck Chevy engines in Oldsmobiles. Instead of saying, we’re sorry, it will never happen again and firing the idiot, GM solved the problem by eliminating divisional engines and setting up one big engine operation, Powertrain.
In my lifetime, in my lifetime, GM Powertrain has never turned out a world-class four-cylinder engine in North America. Never.
The best Six, the 3800, is as old as Methuselah, so they are trying to sell an ancient engine to a generation that doesn’t want a two-year-old computer. There’s a little four-cylinder engine in the ,000 Toyota Echo that has more technology than any GM engine today. Your first engine with variable valve breathing, comes out next year. Let’s hope they can build it. The Japanese and Europeans have been building them for years; that’s why they are good now. We’ll see what happens to your new variable valve engines next year.
All you hear is Northstar Northstar Northstar. BMW, Mercedes, Toyota, Honda wouldn’t have Northstar in their cars. No variable valve breathing. What GM needs is a new small block V8. Where is it? Don’t ask me.
In fact, you are buying a six-cylinder engine from Honda for Saturn. Saturn was created to prove that Americans could build as good a product as the Japanese. Now they are buying Honda engines for Saturn, which proves that this management not only can’t build a better engine, it’s given up trying. In heaven you can hear Ed Cole and Boss Kett sobbing. GM has to buy engines from a competitor
They don’t even have a five-speed automatic for their own cars which are front-wheel drive. They are getting one, when the competition is getting six-speed automatics. GM will get its five when the competition is getting a six-speed. Actually, GM did make five-speed automatics for rear-wheel drive cars and sold them to your competitors. Believe it or not, you helped your competitors whip you.
This management is so inept that its own wholly-owned subsidiary, German Opel, revolted. Did you know that? The board of directors of German Opel, appointed by GM, revolted. They blamed Detroit for stripping Opel of resources for GM’s globalization, thereby wrecking Opel quality. The American head of Opel, Dave Herman, agreed with the Germans, so GM in Detroit, in effect, fired him, ordered him transferred to Moscow. The German board said no, you can’t fire Dave Herman unless we say so. Unprecedented. It took a half-year to straighten this out, and they are still mad.
And while we’re on this, how about this "alliance" strategy? GM spent billions buying 20% of Suzuki, half of Isuzu, 20% of Fiat, 20% of Subaru. Remember, I’m supposed to be a good financial reporter, voted one of the century’s best.
Well, this alliance strategy makes no sense at all to me. Did you know GM has owned part of Isuzu since 1971, that’s 29 years? What have they gotten from it? They’ve been in Suzuki since 1981. 19 years. What have they gotten from it? In profits? Nothing. They get to sell the Geo Tracker. They don’t even get the good Tracker. You get the old one. Billions down the ratholes and they call it a strategy. Well, it is, a losing strategy.
Here’s an aside:
This year’s General Motors annual report said, "It’s no secret that, in recent times, General Motors has been thought of by some as the ‘product laggard’ in the industry. We don’t think that description has ever been fair. However, that image is going to change."
Well, I’m the one they are talking about. And they say it isn’t true but it’s going to change. Why, with the same people leading the team? They are doing the best they can. It just isn’t good enough.
The other day I saw the new SUV the GMC Envoy. That’s the new Jimmy, like the new Blazer will be called the Trailblazer. That Envoy looked good, darn good. But the version I saw had only two rows of seats, no third-row option. GM will build an extended-wheelbase version for a third seat. That extended-seat version will be the same length of the GMC Yukon that has a third seat. You’ve got to understand, the extended-wheelbase Envoy and the Yukon, both the same length, will sit three feet apart in the showroom.
Why do that? Why not build one Envoy, an inch or two longer if need be, with an optional third seat. If it’s not comfortable, the salesman sells the Yukon. You know, that is what Ford is doing. The new Explorer will have a third-seat option, with no 0 million spent for an extended wheelbase version.
The same thing will go for Chevy extended-wheelbase Trailblazer and the Tahoe. Ain’t there anyone in the RenCen who knows how to play this game?
How about the advertising? Remember the Cadillac Ducks? All that money spent to introduce the Catera with stupid and silly ads. How about the new Cadillac advertising theme? "The power of &." I don’t know anyone that knows what it means. And they never fire an ad agency.
I will say the OnStar ads with Batman are terrific. Super. I don’t understand how they got them. I figure they’ll fire the guy who did them.
There’s so much. It goes on and on. They talk about a major effort to build a five-day car; you can have it built-to-order and delivered in five days. What, you need a five-day Cavalier? The major reasons for not having what the customer wants are corporate. That is, they want V8s and you don’t have enough V8 capacity, so you give incentive money to sell sixes. They want silver paint jobs, but the company bought white paint and wants to use it up. Sure, they should make it faster to get a car built-to-order, but that’s no big deal.
E-Business, China, your management puts its hopes in all these fantasies. Meanwhile, Toyota is going to outsell your cars in California. Last year, you registered 182,000 cars in California. Toyota registered 161,000. You were just 21,000 ahead. When will they pass you? And they are catching up in trucks, too. Your management doesn’t know that beating Toyota in California is more important than dreaming about China.
And there’s no modern GM convertible, either. Chrysler sells 60,000 Sebrings. Ford sells 40,000 Mustangs. Good business. But it’s more than that. The convertible is the spirit of a company. That’s why Toyota builds them. You have the ancient and soon-to-die Camaro and the two-seat ‘Vette.
Do we have to go on?
Everybody makes mistakes. But your management makes so many of them. The proof of their incompetence is in the number of mistakes. There is absolutely no reason to think that this will change. The same people who made the mistakes are still in charge, and they haven’t admitted it.
End of Part 2.
Part 3, a much shorter segment. Why these things happen.
Listen carefully: You have a management that doesn’t know much about the American car business. It isn’t that they are bad people or dumb people. I assume they are smart. They just don’t know much about the American car business. Look at their resumes. The chairman and former CEO was the former treasurer who made his bones negotiating the joint-venture deal for the Fremont plant with Toyota. As a reward he was made boss of GM Canada and then GM Europe, and he did a good job, a good job. But he had no American car experience. And in Europe, he had top people around him; they knew the business. That wasn’t true here.
Your new CEO likewise was a financial official, who did a good job in Brazil and a good job in Europe, but had little American car experience, until he was made president of North American operations. His on-the-job training was running North American Auto Operations. He lost market share very year and was promoted to CEO. Most of the disasters that I’ve described, and the fall in market share, came on his watch. Yes, you did make profit here. It would be amazing if you couldn’t make a profit in a 17-million-car year. What happens when it goes to 13.5 million and you have 25% share?
Look, I don’t have anything against financial people. One of the best officers I knew, Bill Hoglund, the man who turned around Pontiac, you know, "We Build Excitement," was a financial man. But he had cars in his heart, and that’s what counts, what’s in your heart, not what you studied in graduate school.
Your president today of North American operations was selling eyewash five years ago. Actually I like Ron Zarrella. He is terrifically smart, and a quick study. But he doesn’t have any experience, the knowledge you get from seeing how things really work. If he had great backup, that might be OK. But the backup is awful. They don’t know the auto business, either. Ron is like a quarterback just out of college, playing for the NFL in his first year, and with no protection. He’s going to get sacked an awful lot.
It’s one thing not to know the business. But worse, your management doesn’t like people who do know something about the American car business. Look at the top-flight people who have gone. J.T. Battenberg, one of the best, gone from GM. Don Hackworth, who once headed Buick and then manufacturing, going. Lou Hughes, gone. Mike Losh, the CFO who once headed Pontiac and Olds, gone. John Rock, who saved GMC, bounced. Ed Mertz of Buick, gone. My impression has been that they actually consider knowledge of the business as some kind of disadvantage.
But worse is the management system they have set up. You don’t have a working system.
Gentlemen, and ladies, again, I am supposed to know something about managements.
Let me tell you a story. Years ago, in the 1950s, Pontiac was going down, and GM sent over Bunkie Knudsen to take over. He took over 60 days before Job 1. He went down to the styling shop to see what he had coming in 60 days.
Pontiac was an old man’s car then. Its styling symbols were two wide chrome stripes running down the hood, we called them suspenders, and the Pontiac Indian head on the hood.
It was only 60 days before Job 1, and Bunkie couldn’t do much, so he said take off the suspenders and the Indian head.
Well, one day I asked the vice president of Buick, you remember, Ed Mertz, if he could walk in 60 days before Job 1 and strip chrome off his car. That was in the day of the 4-Phase System of new-car development. You remember the 4- Phase system; it started at Phase Zero and ended at Phase 3. I want you to know I never thought much of a company with a 4-Phase System that starts at Zero and goes to 3. Anyway, I told Mertz the Knudsen story and asked if he could go into design 60 days before Job 1 and strip off chrome.
He said, "Sixty days before Job 1? Hell, that’s Phase 5."
Gentlemen, I have not found one man in GM who could by himself order a piece of chrome stripped off a car. Your management has created a system without power or responsibility, or with power and responsibility so diffused that it takes forever to get anything at all done. Even the VLEs have to hold meetings to strip off a piece of chrome.
You could say your CEO has power, but he says he doesn’t know anything about design or engineering or marketing so why would he do anything.
Look, the division chiefs are nothing anymore. They aren’t vice presidents; they have no power over quality even. A division like Cadillac has about 50 people on the payroll. They probably will be eliminated in time and the division chief, too.
The brand-marketing boss is supposed to have power, but as far as I can he or she has power over the advertising. The VLE is supposed to be the boss, but they aren’t vice presidents, and they report to manufacturing and manufacturing never wants to change anything.
As far as I could tell, the most powerful car guy was Don Hackworth, but he’s gotten his head chopped off.
And there seems to be no penalty for failure. Has anyone been fired for that Saturn disaster? I figure the worst launch on top of the worst platform decision, which was, by the way, forced not by Saturn people but by top management of GM. Have they shaken up design for those boring products? Have they changed the brand management for the market share loss? Did they ever fire anybody for lousy advertising? There is no penalty for failure.
How can anyone who knows something about the American car business, about cars, get to the top, or even the No. 2 position, of GM. I don’t see the pathway up. Engineers don’t count for anything anymore in this company as far as I can tell. You know, even Fred Donner, the ultimate financial man at GM, who set up the last management system about 40 years ago, felt that while there should be a financial man on top, the No. 2 should know something about cars. Not today.
I recall John Rock, then a vice president of Oldsmobile, said to me, "This system won’t work, but it will take them 10 years to find out."
Your board of directors. I believe there is only one person on the entire board who likes cars, and it’s not Jack Smith, the chairman, either
The stock price: It is as high as it is because of Hughes, bought by Roger Smith. Without Hughes I figure GM could be selling at 35. And you can thank Carl Icahn, the old raider for pushing it up 12 points by announcing a raid. Now he’s gone. Where will it go?
Enough, end of Part 3
Part 4. What can you do about it?
Well I hope someone made a tape of this speech. If not, I can give you a copy of my text. Each one of you should drop a note to each member of the board.
You could do it in a round robin, if you wanted. That is, everyone signs the same note, in a circle. That’s a round robin. No one stands out.
Tell them you don’t know if I’m right or wrong but you’re worried about GM.
Urge them to set up a committee of outsiders, men who know the business, to study GM and report back with a plan of action in 60 days. Make suggestions about who should be on this committee.
How about Bill Hoglund, ex-GM executive vice president. How about Roger Penske, how about Lee Iacocca, or Bill Mitchell or Bob Eaton or Bob Lutz or J.T. Battenberg or Maryanne Keller.
The board must order that all records and minutes be made available immediately to the committee. They must order that all officers make cooperation with the committee their first, their first priority. That anyone obstructing, delaying or acting in any way uncooperatively shall be suspended by the committee awaiting board action. Who could they hire if they went that way? Believe me, there are people out there who could lead General Motors back to glory. And throw another shrimp on the barbie. That’s a hint about one of them.
The committee should have the right to interview people outside of GM for positions within the company. The committee members must be paid terribly well for their work, too. That’s because if they do it for free no one will respect the report. They only respect what they overpay for.
You can call this the Committee of Public Safety.
What else can you do? Go to church and pray. Your company is going down to 25% of the market. That’s not terrible. You can make money at 25%, Ford does. But I don’t see leaders coming up the pipeline. All I see is more stretch goals.
When you write to your board members, tell them that you don’t understand how a company that depends on products has no upward mobility for product people. None of the top executives are product people.
Write slogans on walls, too. Victory or Death, Beat Ford, V, Sic Semper Tyrannis.
Image by Travis S.
This is the land that was once owned by the rancher in the LA area. I tried to outline it in Google maps so one can zoom out and get a better bearing on what is being looked at. The outline I gave might be a bit off, especially in the northeast corner, as there are no roads that follow the boundary line.
I don’t recall the date this photo was taken.
The area of Rancho La Brea was first noted in 1769, with attention given to the tar pits. In 1828, this land was gifted to the mayor of Los Angeles under the stipulation that the public could come see the tar pits. In 1860 the land was deeded to the Hancock family who created a commercial business where 5 tons of La Brea asphalt was turned out daily in the 1880s. Palenontological and archaeological remains were being found at the time, but not much attention was paid to them until the early 20th century.
At this time the oil companies stepped in and put in 250 wells which was pulling out nearly 4 million barrels of oil a year in the first decade of the 20th century. Luckily the Hancocks also allowed scientists on their land and by 1913 they allowed LA County to dig on their land. This was also the year that Ida Hancock Ross, Rancho La Brea’s matriarch passed, which began the process of subdividing the land.
(It’s hard to believe that my grandfather was born just 13 years after Ida’s death. He would tell me stories of hunting for deer in the Hollywood Hills and running around the movie sets before security got really tight. It almost seems like a different world from the LA that I grew up in.)
In the 1950s the tar pits became overgrown and were fenced off after a boy almost drowned in them. In 1977, the George C. Page Museum was opened to the public, putting on display all the wonderful fossils that had been found over the last century.
"I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness,
starving hysterical naked,
dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix,
angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection
to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night . . .
who ate fire in paint hotels or drank turpentine in Paradise Alley,
death, or purgatoried their torsos night after night
with dreams, with drugs, with waking nightmares, alcohol and
cock and endless balls . . .
who burned cigarette holes in their arms protesting the narcotic
tobacco haze of Capitalism . . .
who howled on their knees in the subway and were dragged off the roof waving genitals and manuscripts . . ."
Image by pedrosimoes7
Arpad Szenes-Vieira da Silva Foundation, Praça das Amoreiras, Lisbon, Portugal
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
MovementExpressionism, Bauhaus, Surrealism
Paul Klee (German: [paʊ̯l ˈkleː]; 18 December 1879 – 29 June 1940) was a Swiss-German artist. His highly individual style was influenced by movements in art that included Expressionism, Cubism, and Surrealism. Klee was a natural draftsman who experimented with and eventually deeply explored color theory, writing about it extensively; his lectures Writings on Form and Design Theory (Schriften zur Form und Gestaltungslehre), published in English as the Paul Klee Notebooks, are held to be as important for modern art as Leonardo da Vinci’s A Treatise on Painting for the Renaissance. He and his colleague, Russian painter Wassily Kandinsky, both taught at the Bauhaus school of art, design and architecture. His works reflect his dry humor and his sometimes childlike perspective, his personal moods and beliefs, and his musicality.
— Paul Klee.
Paul Klee was born in Münchenbuchsee, Switzerland, as the second child of German music teacher Hans Wilhelm Klee (1849–1940) and Swiss singer Ida Marie Klee, née Frick (1855–1921).[a] His sister Mathilde (died 6 December 1953) was born on 28 January 1876 in Walzenhausen. Their father came from Tann and studied at the Stuttgart Conservatory singing, piano, organ and violin, meeting there his future wife Ida Frick. Hans Wilhelm Klee was active as a music teacher at the Bern State Seminary in Hofwil near Bern until 1931. Klee was able to develop his music skills as his parents encouraged and inspired him until his death. In 1880, his family moved to Bern, where they moved 17 years later after numerous changes of residence into a house at the Kirchenfeld district. From 1886 to 1890, Klee visited primary school and received, at the age of 7, violin classes at the Municipal Music School. He was so talented on violin that, aged 11, he received an invitation to play as an extraordinary member of the Bern Music Association.
In his early years, following his parents’ wishes, Klee focused on becoming a musician; but he decided on the visual arts during his teen years, partly out of rebellion and partly because of a belief that modern music lacked meaning for him. He stated, "I didn’t find the idea of going in for music creatively particularly attractive in view of the decline in the history of musical achievement." As a musician, he played and felt emotionally bound to traditional works of the eighteenth and nineteenth century, but as an artist he craved the freedom to explore radical ideas and styles. At sixteen, Klee’s landscape drawings already show considerable skill.
Around 1897, Klee started his diary, which he kept until 1918, and which has provided scholars with valuable insight into his life and thinking. During his school years, he avidly drew in his school books, in particular drawing caricatures, and already demonstrating skill with line and volume. He barely passed his final exams at the "Gymnasium" of Bern, where he qualified in the Humanities. With his characteristic dry wit, he wrote, "After all, it’s rather difficult to achieve the exact minimum, and it involves risks." On his own time, in addition to his deep interests in music and art, Klee was a great reader of literature, and later a writer on art theory and aesthetics.
With his parents’ reluctant permission, in 1898 Klee began studying art at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich with Heinrich Knirr and Franz von Stuck. He excelled at drawing but seemed to lack any natural color sense. He later recalled, "During the third winter I even realized that I probably would never learn to paint." During these times of youthful adventure, Klee spent much time in pubs and had affairs with lower class women and artists’ models. He had an illegitimate son in 1900 who died several weeks after birth.
After receiving his Fine Arts degree, Klee went to Italy from October 1901 to May 1902 with friend Hermann Haller. They stayed in Rome, Florence, and Naples, and studied the master painters of past centuries. He exclaimed, "The Forum and the Vatican have spoken to me. Humanism wants to suffocate me." He responded to the colors of Italy, but sadly noted, "that a long struggle lies in store for me in this field of color." For Klee, color represented the optimism and nobility in art, and a hope for relief from the pessimistic nature he expressed in his black-and-white grotesques and satires. Returning to Bern, he lived with his parents for several years, and took occasional art classes. By 1905, he was developing some experimental techniques, including drawing with a needle on a blackened pane of glass, resulting in fifty-seven works including his Portrait of My Father (1906). In the years 1903-5 he also completed a cycle of eleven zinc-plate etchings called Inventions, his first exhibited works, in which he illustrated several grotesque characters. He commented, "though I’m fairly satisfied with my etchings I can’t go on like this. I’m not a specialist." Klee was still dividing his time with music, playing the violin in an orchestra and writing concert and theater reviews.
Marriage and early years
Flower Myth (Blumenmythos) 1918, watercolor on pastel foundation on fabric and newsprint mounted on board, Sprengel Museum, Hannover, Germany
Klee married Bavarian pianist Lily Stumpf in 1906 and they had one son named Felix Paul in the following year. They lived in a suburb of Munich, and while she gave piano lessons and occasional performances, he kept house and tended to his art work. His attempt to be a magazine illustrator failed. Klee’s art work progressed slowly for the next five years, partly from having to divide his time with domestic matters, and partly as he tried to find a new approach to his art. In 1910, he had his first solo exhibition in Bern, which then traveled to three Swiss cities.
Affiliation to the "Blaue Reiter", 1911
In January 1911 Alfred Kubin met Klee in Munich and encouraged him to illustrate Voltaire’s Candide. Around this time, Klee’s graphic work increased. His early inclination towards the absurd and the sarcastic was well received by Kubin, who befriended Klee and became one of his first significant collectors. Klee met, through Kubin, the art critic Wilhelm Hausenstein in 1911. Klee was a foundation member and manager of the Munich artists’ union Sema that summer. In autumn he made an acquaintance with August Macke and Wassily Kandinsky, and in winter he joined the editorial team of the almanac Der Blaue Reiter, founded by Franz Marc and Kandinsky. On meeting Kandinsky, Klee recorded, "I came to feel a deep trust in him. He is somebody, and has an exceptionally beautiful and lucid mind." Other members included Macke, Gabriele Münter and Marianne von Werefkin. Klee became in a few months one of the most important and independent members of the Blaue Reiter, but he was not yet fully integrated.
The release of the almanac was delayed for the benefit of an exhibition. The first Blaue Reiter exhibition took place from 18 December 1911 to 1 January 1912 in the Moderne Galerie Heinrich Thannhauser in Munich. Klee did not attend it, but in the second exhibition, which occurred from 12 February to 18 March 1912 in the Galerie Goltz, 17 of his graphic works were shown. The name of this art exhibition was Schwarz-Weiß, as it only regarded graphic painting. Initially planned to be released in 1911, the release date of the Der Blau Reiter almanac by Kandinsky and Marc was delayed in May 1912, including the reproduced ink drawing Steinhauer by Klee. At the same time, Kandinsky published his art history writing Über das Geistige in der Kunst.
Participation on art exhibitions, 1912/1913
The association opened Klee’s mind to modern theories of color. His travels to Paris in 1912 also exposed him to the ferment of Cubism and the pioneering examples of "pure painting", an early term for abstract art. The use of bold color by Robert Delaunay and Maurice de Vlaminck also inspired him. Rather than copy these artists, Klee began working out his own color experiments in pale watercolors and did some primitive landscapes, including In the Quarry (1913) and Houses near the Gravel Pit (1913), using blocks of color with limited overlap. Klee acknowledged that "a long struggle lies in store for me in this field of color" in order to reach his "distant noble aim." Soon, he discovered "the style which connects drawing and the realm of color."
Trip to Tunis, 1914
Klee’s artistic breakthrough came in 1914 when he briefly visited Tunisia with August Macke and Louis Moilliet and was impressed by the quality of the light there. He wrote, "Color has taken possession of me; no longer do I have to chase after it, I know that it has hold of me forever… Color and I are one. I am a painter." With that realization, faithfulness to nature faded in importance. Instead, Klee began to delve into the "cool romanticism of abstraction". In gaining a second artistic vocabulary, Klee added color to his abilities in draftsmanship, and in many works combined them successfully, as he did in one series he called "operatic paintings". One of the most literal examples of this new synthesis is The Bavarian Don Giovanni (1919).
After returning home, Klee painted his first pure abstract, In the Style of Kairouan (1914), composed of colored rectangles and a few circles. The colored rectangle became his basic building block, what some scholars associate with a musical note, which Klee combined with other colored blocks to create a color harmony analogous to a musical composition. His selection of a particular color palette emulates a musical key. Sometimes he uses complementary pairs of colors, and other times "dissonant" colors, again reflecting his connection with musicality.
Paul Klee as a soldier, 1916
A few weeks later, World War I began. At first, Klee was somewhat detached from it, as he wrote ironically, "I have long had this war in me. That is why, inwardly, it is none of my concern."  Klee was conscripted as a Landsturmsoldat (soldier of the reserve forces in Prussia or Imperial Germany) on 5 March 1916. The deaths of his friends August Macke and Franz Marc in battle began to affect him. Venting his distress, he created several pen and ink lithographs on war themes including Death for the Idea (1915). After finishing the military training course, which began on 11 March 1916, he was committed as a soldier behind the front. Klee moved on 20 August to the aircraft maintenance company[b] in Oberschleissheim, executing skilled manual work, such as restoring aircraft camouflage, and accompanying aircraft transports. On 17 January 1917, he was transferred to the Royal Bavarian flying school in Gersthofen (which 54 years later became the USASA Field Station Augsburg) to work as a clerk for the treasurer until the end of the war. This allowed him to stay in a small room outside of the barrack block and continue painting.
He continued to paint during the entire war and managed to exhibit in several shows. By 1917, Klee’s work was selling well and art critics acclaimed him as the best of the new German artists. His Ab ovo (1917) is particularly noteworthy for its sophisticated technique. It employs watercolor on gauze and paper with a chalk ground, which produces a rich texture of triangular, circular, and crescent patterns. Demonstrating his range of exploration, mixing color and line, his Warning of the Ships (1918) is a colored drawing filled with symbolic images on a field of suppressed color.
Red Balloon, 1922, oil on muslin primed with chalk, 31.8 x 31.1 cm. The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York
In 1919, Klee applied for a teaching post at the Academy of Art in Stuttgart. This attempt failed but he had a major success in securing a three-year contract (with a minimum annual income) with dealer Hans Goltz, whose influential gallery gave Klee major exposure, and some commercial success. A retrospective of over 300 works in 1920 was also notable.
Klee taught at the Bauhaus from January 1921 to April 1931. He was a "Form" master in the bookbinding, stained glass, and mural painting workshops and was provided with two studios. In 1922, Kandinsky joined the staff and resumed his friendship with Klee. Later that year the first Bauhaus exhibition and festival was held, for which Klee created several of the advertising materials. Klee welcomed that there were many conflicting theories and opinions within the Bauhaus: "I also approve of these forces competing one with the other if the result is achievement."
Tropical Gardening, 1923 watercolor and oil transfer drawing on paper, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York.
Klee was also a member of Die Blaue Vier (The Blue Four), with Kandinsky, Lyonel Feininger, and Alexej von Jawlensky; formed in 1923, they lectured and exhibited together in the USA in 1925. That same year, Klee had his first exhibits in Paris, and he became a hit with the French Surrealists. Klee visited Egypt in 1928, which impressed him less than Tunisia. In 1929, the first major monograph on Klee’s work was published, written by Will Grohmann.
Nocturnal Festivity, 1921, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York.
Klee also taught at the Düsseldorf Academy from 1931 to 1933, and was singled out by a Nazi newspaper, "Then that great fellow Klee comes onto the scene, already famed as a Bauhaus teacher in Dessau. He tells everyone he’s a thoroughbred Arab, but he’s a typical Galician Jew." His home was searched by the Gestapo and he was fired from his job. His self-portrait Struck from the List (1933) commemorates the sad occasion. In 1933-4, Klee had shows in London and Paris, and finally met Pablo Picasso, whom he greatly admired. The Klee family emigrated to Switzerland in late 1933.
Klee was at the peak of his creative output. His Ad Parnassum (1932) is considered his masterpiece and the best example of his pointillist style; it is also one of his largest, most finely worked paintings. He produced nearly 500 works in 1933 during his last year in Germany. However, in 1933, Klee began experiencing the symptoms of what was diagnosed as scleroderma after his death. The progression of his fatal disease, which made swallowing very difficult, can be followed through the art he created in his last years. His output in 1936 was only 25 pictures. In the later 1930s, his health recovered somewhat and he was encouraged by a visit from Kandinsky and Picasso. Klee’s simpler and larger designs enabled him to keep up his output in his final years, and in 1939 he created over 1,200 works, a career high for one year. He used heavier lines and mainly geometric forms with fewer but larger blocks of color. His varied color palettes, some with bright colors and others sober, perhaps reflected his alternating moods of optimism and pessimism. Back in Germany in 1937, seventeen of Klee’s pictures were included in an exhibition of "Degenerate art" and 102 of his works in public collections were seized by the Nazis.
Klee suffered from a wasting disease, scleroderma, toward the end of his life, enduring pain that seems to be reflected in his last works of art. One of his last paintings, Death and Fire, features a skull in the center with the German word for death, "Tod", appearing in the face. He died in Muralto, Locarno, Switzerland, on 29 June 1940 without having obtained Swiss citizenship, despite his birth in that country. His art work was considered too revolutionary, even degenerate, by the Swiss authorities, but eventually they accepted his request six days after his death. His legacy comprises about 9,000 works of art. The words on his tombstone, Klee’s credo, placed there by his son Felix, say, "I cannot be grasped in the here and now, For my dwelling place is as much among the dead, As the yet unborn, Slightly closer to the heart of creation than usual, But still not close enough." He was buried at Schosshaldenfriedhof, Bern, Switzerland.
Style and methods
Tale à la Hoffmann (1921), watercolor, ink, and pencil on paper. 31.1 × 24.1 cm. In the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Klee has been variously associated with Expressionism, Cubism, Futurism, Surrealism, and Abstraction, but his pictures are difficult to classify. He generally worked in isolation from his peers, and interpreted new art trends in his own way. He was inventive in his methods and technique. Klee worked in many different media—oil paint, watercolor, ink, pastel, etching, and others. He often combined them into one work. He used canvas, burlap, muslin, linen, gauze, cardboard, metal foils, fabric, wallpaper, and newsprint. Klee employed spray paint, knife application, stamping, glazing, and impasto, and mixed media such as oil with watercolor, watercolor with pen and India ink, and oil with tempera.
He was a natural draftsman, and through long experimentation developed a mastery of color and tonality. Many of his works combine these skills. He uses a great variety of color palettes from nearly monochromatic to highly polychromatic. His works often have a fragile childlike quality to them and are usually on a small scale. He often used geometric forms as well as letters, numbers, and arrows, and combined them with figures of animals and people. Some works were completely abstract. Many of his works and their titles reflect his dry humor and varying moods; some express political convictions. They frequently allude to poetry, music and dreams and sometimes include words or musical notation. The later works are distinguished by spidery hieroglyph-like symbols. Rainer Maria Rilke wrote about Klee in 1921, "Even if you hadn’t told me he plays the violin, I would have guessed that on many occasions his drawings were transcriptions of music."
Pamela Kort observed: "Klee’s 1933 drawings present their beholder with an unparalleled opportunity to glimpse a central aspect of his aesthetics that has remained largely unappreciated: his lifelong concern with the possibilities of parody and wit. Herein lies their real significance, particularly for an audience unaware that Klee’s art has political dimensions."
Among the few plastic works are hand puppets made between 1916 and 1925, for his son Felix. The artist neither counts them as a component of his oeuvre, nor does he list them in his catalogue raisonné. Thirty of the preserved puppets are stored at the Zentrum Paul Klee, Bern.
Some of Klee’s early preserved children’s drawings, which his grandmother encouraged, were listed on his catalogue raisonné. A total of 19 etchings were produced during the Bern years; ten of these were made between 1903 and 1905 in the cycle "Inventionen" (Inventions), which were presented in June 1906 at the "Internationale Kunstausstellung des Vereins bildender Künstler Münchens ‘Secession’" (International Art Exhibition of the Association for Graphic Arts, Munich, Secession), his first appearance as a painter in the public. Klee had removed the third Invention, Pessimistische Allegorie des Gebirges (Pessimistic Allegory of the Mountain), in February 1906 from his cycle. The satirical etchings, for example Jungfrau im Baum/Jungfrau (träumend) (Virgin on the tree/Virgin (dreaming)) from 1903 and Greiser Phoenix (Aged Phoenix) from 1905, were classified by Klee as "surrealistic outposts". Jungfrau im Baum ties on the motive Le cattive madri (1894) by Giovanni Segantini. The picture was influenced by grotesk lyric poetries of Alfred Jarry, Max Jacob and Christian Morgenstern. It features an cultural pessimism, which can be found at the turn of the 20th century in works by Symbolists. The Invention Nr. 6, the 1903 etching Zwei Männer, einander in höherer Stellung vermutend (Two Men, Supposing to be in Major Position), depicts two naked men, presumably emperor Wilhelm II and Franz Joseph I of Austria, recognizable by their hairstyle and beards. As their clothes and insignia were bereft, "both of them have no clue if their conventional salute […] is in order or not. As they assume that their counterpart could have been higher rated", they bow and scrape.
Dame mit Sonnenschirm, 1883–1885, pencil on paper on cardboard, Zentrum Paul Klee, Bern
Hilterfingen, 1895, ink on paper, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York
Third Invention: Jungfrau im Baum, 1903, etching, Museum of Modern Art, New York
Sixth Invention: Zwei Männer, einander in höherer Stellung vermutend, begegnen sich, 1903, etching, Zentrum Paul Klee, Bern
Aged Phoenix,1905,etching, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York
Klee began to introduce a new technique in 1905: scratching on a blackened glass panel with a needle. In that manner he created about 57 Verre églomisé pictures, among those the 1905 Gartenszene (Scene on a Garden) and the 1906 Porträt des Vaters (Portrait of a Father), with which he tried to combine painting and scratching. Klee’s solitary early work ended in 1911, the year he met and was inspired by the graphic artist Alfred Kubin, and became associated with the artists of the Blaue Reiter.
Mystical-abstract period, 1914–1919
During his twelve-day educational trip to Tunis in April 1914 Klee produced with Macke and Moilliet watercolor paintings, which implement the strong light and color stimulus of the North African countryside in the fashion of Paul Cézanne and Robert Delaunays’ cubistic form concepts. The aim was not to imitate nature, but to create compositions analogous to nature’s formative principle, as in the works In den Häusern von Saint-Germain (In the Houses of Saint-Germain) and Straßencafé (Streetcafé). Klee conveyed the scenery in a grid, so that it dissolves into colored harmony. He also created abstract works in that period such as Abstract and Farbige Kreise durch Farbbänder verbunden (Colored Circles Tied Through Inked Ribbons). He never abandoned the object; a permanent segregation never took place. It took over ten years that Klee worked on experiments and analysis of the color, resulting to an independent artificial work, whereby his design ideas were based on the colorful oriental world.
Fenster und Palmen, 1914, watercolor on grounding on paper on cardboard, Kunsthaus Zürich, Zurich
In den Häusern von St. Germain, 1914, watercolor on paper on cardboard, Zentrum Paul Klee, Bern
Föhn im Marc’schen Garten, 1915, watercolor on paper on cardboard, Lenbachhaus, Munich
Acrobats, 1915, watercolor, pastel and ink on paper, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York
Föhn im Marc’schen Garten (Foehn at Marc’s Garden) was made after the Turin trip. It indicates the relations between color and the stimulus of Macke and Delaunay. Although elements of the garden are clearly visible, a further steering towards abstraction is noticeable. In his diary Klee wrote the following note at that time:
In the large molding pit are lying ruins, on which one partially hangs. They provide the material for the abstraction. […] The terrible the world, the abstract the art, while a happy world produces secularistic art.
Under the impression of his military service he created the painting Trauerblumen (Velvetbells) in 1917, which, with its graphical signs, vegetal and phantastic shapes, is a forerunner of his future works, harmonically combining graphic, color and object. For the first time birds appear in the pictures, such as in Blumenmythos (Flower Myth) from 1918, mirroring the flying and falling planes he saw in Gersthofen, and the photographed plane crashes.
In the 1918 watercolor painting Einst dem Grau der Nacht enttaucht, a compositional implemented poem, possible written by Klee, he incorporated letters in small, in terms of color separated squares, cutting off the first verse from the second one with silver paper. At the top of the cardboard, which carries the picture, the verses are inscribed in manuscript form. Here, Klee did not lean on Delaunay’s colors, but on Marc’s, although the picture content of both painters does not correspond with each other. Herwarth Walden, Klee’s art dealer, saw in them a "Wachablösung" (changing of the guard) of his art. Since 1919 he often used oil colors, with which he combined watercolors and colored pencil. The Villa R (Kunstmuseum Basel) from 1919 unites visible realities such as sun, moon, mountains, trees and architectures, as well as surreal pledges and sentiment readings.
Works in the Bauhaus period and in Düsseldorf
His works during this time include abstract graphical elements such as betroffener Ort (Affected Place) (1922). From that period he created Die Zwitscher-Maschine (The Twittering Machine), which was later removed from the National Gallery. After being named defamatory in the Munich exhibition "Entartete Kunst", the painting was later bought by the Buchholz Gallery, New York, and then transferred in 1939 to the Museum of Modern Art. The "twittering" in the title refers to the open-beaked birds, while the "machine" is illustrated by the crank.
In Engelshut, 1931, watercolor and colored inks on paper, mounted on paper, Guggenheim Museum
The watercolor painting appears at a first glance childish, but it allows more interpretations. The picture can be interpreted as a critic by Klee, who shows through denaturation of the birds, that the world technization heist the creatures’ self-determination.
Other examples from that period are der Goldfisch (The Goldfish) from 1925, Katze und Vogel (Cat and Bird), from 1928, and Hauptweg und Nebenwege (Mainway and Sideways) from 1929. Through variations of the canvas ground and his combinated painting techniques Klee created new color effects and picture impressions.
In 1931, Klee transferred to Düsseldorf to teach in the Akademie; the Nazis shut down the Bauhaus soon after. During this time, Klee illustrated a series of guardian angels. Among these figurations is "In Engelshut" (In the Angel’s Care). Its overlaying technique evinces the polyphonic character of his drawing method between 1920 and 1932 .
The 1932 painting Ad Parnassum was also created in the Düsseldorfer period. With 100 cm × 126 cm (39 in × 50 in) it is one of his largest paintings, as he usually worked with small formats. In this mosaic-like work in the style of pointillism he combined different techniques and compositional principles. Influenced by his trip to Egypt from 1928 to 1929, Klee built a color field from individually stamped dots, surrounded by likewise stamped lines, which results in a pyramid. Above the roof of the "Parnassus" there is a sun. The title identifies the picture as the home of Apollo and the Muses. In 1933, the last year in Germany, he created a range of paintings and drawings; the catalogue raisonné comprised 482 works. The self-portrait in the same year – with the programmatic title von der Liste gestrichen (removed from the list) – provides information about his feeling after losing professorship. The abstract portrait was painted in dark colors and shows closed eyes and compressed lips, while on the back part of his head there is a large "X", symbolizing that his art was no longer valued in Germany.
Red/Green Architecture (yellow/violet gradation), 1922, oil on canvas on cardboard mat, Yale University Art Gallery, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut
Senecio, 1922, oil on gauze, Kunstmuseum Basel, Basel
Fright of a Girl, 1922, Watercolor, India ink and oil transfer drawing on paper, with India ink on paper mount, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York
Last works in Switzerland
In this period Klee mainly worked on large-sized pictures. After the onset of illness, there were about 25 works in the 1936 catalogue, but his productivity increased in 1937 to 264 pictures, 1938 to 489, and 1939 – his most productive year – to 1254. They dealt with ambivalent themes, expressing his personal fate, the political situation and his joke. Examples are the watercolor painting Musiker (musician), a stickman face with partially serious, partially smiling mouth; and the Revolution des Viadukts (Revolution of the Viadukt), an anti-fascist art. In Viadukt (1937) the bridge arches split from the bank as they refuse to be linked to a chain and are therefore rioting. Since 1938, Klee worked more intensively with hieroglyphic-like elements. The painting Insula dulcamara from the same year, which is one of his largest (88 cm × 176 cm (35 in × 69 in)), shows a white face in the middle of the elements, symbolizing death with its black-circled eye sockets. Bitterness and sorrow are not rare in much of his works during this time.
Zeichen in Gelb, 1937, pastel on cotton on colored paste on jute on stretcher frame, Foundation Beyeler, Riehen near Basel
Nach der Überschwemmung, 1936, wallpaper glue and watercolors on Ingres paper on cardboard
Revolution des Viadukts, 1937, oil on oil grounding on cotton on stretcher frame, Hamburger Kunsthalle
Die Vase, 1938, oil on jute, Foundation Beyeler, Riehen near Basel
Insula dulcamara, 1938, oil color and colored paste on newsprint on jute on stretcher frame, Zentrum Paul Klee, Bern
Ohne Titel (Letztes Stillleben), 1940, oil on canvas on stretcher frame, Zentrum Paul Klee, Bern
Tod und Feuer (Death and Fire), 1940, oil on distemper on jute, Zentrum Paul Klee, Bern
Klee created in 1940 a picture which strongly differs from the previous works, leaving it unsigned on the scaffold. The comparatively realistic still life, Ohne Titel, later named as Der Todesengel (Angel of Death), depicts flowers, a green pot, sculpture and an angel. The moon on black ground is separated from these groups. During his 60th birthday Klee was photographed in front of this picture.
Reception and legacy
Paul Klee – Forest Witches – Google Art Project.jpg
Paul Klee at Tate Modern on YouTube, (3:38), The Art Fund (UK)
Was fehlt ihm? (What Is He Missing?), 1930, stamp drawing in ink, Ingres paper on cardboard, Fondation Beyeler, Riehen near Basel
“Art does not reproduce the visible; rather, it makes visible.”
"Klee’s act is very prestigious. In a minimum of one line he can reveal his wisdom. He is everything; profound, gentle and many more of the good things, and this because: he is innovative", wrote Oskar Schlemmer, Klee’s future artist colleague at the Bauhaus, in his September 1916 diary.
Novelist and Klee’s friend Wilhelm Hausenstein wrote in his work Über Expressionismus in der Malerei (On Expressionism in Painting), "Maybe Klee’s attitude is in general understandable for musical people – how Klee is one of the most delightsome violinist playing Bach and Händel, who ever walked on earth. […] For Klee, the German classic painter of the Cubism, the world music became his companion, possibly even a part of his art; the composition, written in notes, seems to be not dissimilar."
When Klee visited the Paris surrealism exhibition in 1925, Max Ernst was impressed by his work. His partially morbid motifs appealed to the surrealists. André Breton helped to develop the surrealism and renamed Klee’s 1912 painting Zimmerperspektive mit Einwohnern (Room Perspective with People) to chambre spirit in a catalogue. Critic René Crevel called the artist a "dreamer" who "releases a swarm of small lyrical louses from mysterious abysses." Paul Klee’s confidante Will Grohmann argued in the Cahiers d’art that he "stands definitely well solid on his feet. He is by no means a dreamer; he is a modern person, who teaches as a professor at the Bauhaus." Whereupon Breton, as Joan Miró remembers, was critical of Klee: "Masson and I have both discovered Paul Klee. Paul Éluard and Crevel are also interested in Klee, and they have even visited him. But Breton despises him."
The art of mentally ill people inspired Klee as well as Kandinsky and Max Ernst, after Hans Prinzhorns book Bildnerei der Geisteskranken (Artistry of the Mentally Ill) was published in 1922. In 1937, some papers from Prinzhorn’s anthology were presented at the National Socialist propaganda exhibition "Entartete Kunst" in Munich, with the purpose of defaming the works of Kirchner, Klee, Nolde and other artists by likening them to the works of the insane.
In 1949 Marcel Duchamp commented on Paul Klee: "The first reaction in front of a Klee painting is the very pleasant discovery, what everyone of us could or could have done, to try drawing like in our childhood. Most of his compositions show at the first glance a plain, naive expression, found in children’s drawings. […] At a second analyse one can discover a technique, which takes as a basis a large maturity in thinking. A deep understanding of dealing with watercolors to paint a personal method in oil, structured in decorative shapes, let Klee stand out in the contemporary art and make him incomparable. On the other side, his experiment was adopted in the last 30 years by many other artists as a basis for newer creations in the most different areas in painting. His extreme productivity never shows evidence of repetition, as is usually the case. He had so much to say, that a Klee never became an other Klee."
One of Klee’s paintings, Angelus Novus, was the object of an interpretative text by German philosopher and literary critic Walter Benjamin, who purchased the painting in 1921. In his "Theses on the Philosophy of History" Benjamin suggests that the angel depicted in the painting might be seen as representing the angel of history.
Zentrum Paul Klee in Bern, Switzerland, designed by Renzo Piano
Unlike his taste for adventurous modern experiment in painting, Klee, though musically talented, was attracted to older traditions of music; he neither appreciated composers of the late 19th century, such as Wagner, Bruckner and Mahler, nor contemporary music. Bach and Mozart were for him the greatest composers; he most enjoyed playing the works by the latter.
Klee’s work has influenced composers including Argentinian Roberto García Morillo in 1943, with Tres pinturas de Paul Klee, and the American artist David Diamond in 1958, with the four-part Opus Welt von Paul Klee (World of Paul Klee) Gunther Schuller with Sieben Studien über Klee’sche Bilder (Seven Studies about Klee Pictures) in the years 1959/60, and the Spanish composer Benet Casablancas with Alter Klang, Impromptu for Orchestra after Klee (2006); Casablancas is author also of the Retablo on texts by Paul Klee, Cantata da Camera for Soprano, Mezzo and Piano (2007). Other works are Abstraktes Terzett (Abstract Trio), Little Blue Devil, Zwitscher-Maschine (Twittering Machine), Arab Village, Ein unheimlicher Moment (An Eerie Moment) and Pastorale. In 1950, Giselher Klebe performed his orchestral work Die Zwitschermaschine with the subtitle Metamorphosen über das Bild von Paul Klee at the Donaueschinger Musiktage. 8 Pieces on Paul Klee is the title of the debut album by the Ensemble Sortisatio, recorded February and March 2002 in Leipzig and August 2002 in Luzern, Switzerland. The composition "Wie der Klee vierblättrig wurde" (How the clover became four-leaved) was inspired by the watercolor painting Hat Kopf, Hand, Fuss und Herz (1930), Angelus Novus and Hauptweg und Nebenwege.
In 1968, a jazz group called The National Gallery featuring composer Chuck Mangione released the album Performing Musical Interpretations of the Paintings of Paul Klee. In 1995 the Greek experimental filmmaker, Kostas Sfikas, created a film based entirely on Paul Klee’s paintings. The film is entitled "Paul Klee’s Prophetic Bird of Sorrows", and draws its title from Klee’s Landscape with Yellow Birds. It was made using portions and cutouts from Paul Klee’s paintings.
Image from page 339 of “The story-life of Lincoln; a biography composed of five hundred true stories told by Abraham Lincoln and his friends” (1908)
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Text Appearing Before Image: hing to you, nothing to themass of the people of this nation, whether or not Judge Douglas ormyself shall ever be heard of after this night; it may be a trifle toeither of us, but in connection with this mighty question, uponwhich hang the destinies of the nation perhaps, it is absolutelynothing. The intense heat and fury of the debates, the defeat in Novem-ber, did not alter a jot this high view: I am glad I made the late race, he wrote Dr. A. G. Henry. It gave me a hearing on the great and durable question of the agewhich I wrould have had in no other way; and though I now sinkout of view and shall be forgotten, I believe I have made somemarks which shall tell for the cause of civil liberty long after I amgone. The Life of Abraham Lincoln, Ida M. Tarbell Vol. I, page 323. Parallel Careers of Lincoln and Douglas The careers of Lincoln and Douglas were closely connected.In their professions and in their politics, they were rivals, andfinally became rival candidates for the Presidency.
Text Appearing After Image: LINCOLN IN 1859Mrs. Lincoln pronounced this the best likeness ever taken of her husband. (296) BATTLES OF THE GIANTS 207 1839—Both were admitted to practice in the Supreme Court ofIllinois on the same day. 1841—Both courted the same lady. 1846—Both represented Illinois in Congress. 1858—They were opposing candidates for United StatesSenator. i860—They were both candidates for the Presidency. Winnowings for Lincolns Birthday, Agnes Mawson, Note 16, page 86. Called to Speak in Kansas and in Ohio The close of his letter (to the Hon. N. B. Judd): You are feeling badly, and this, too, shall pass away, neverfear, shows that so far from feeling chagrin or depression over hisdefeat, Lincoln had a word of cheer for his friends. In the autumn of 1859 he visited Kansas, and the people of thatyoung commonwealth received him as one who had so eloquentlypleaded their cause should be received In the autumn of 1859 Douglas visited Ohio and made a canvassfor the Democratic party. On his appe
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