The Grey-Point - Deleuze on Klee

Kamini Vellodi

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Taking off from Klee’s 1938 painting, The Grey Man and the Coast, this paper explores Klee’s concept of the ‘grey point’ and its role in Deleuze’s philosophy of art. In his Bauhaus lectures, Klee develops the notion of the grey point as a cosmogenetic moment of painting. The hinge between chaos and order, the mid-point of all colour (including black and white), as well as the transition between point and line, grey plays a pivotal role in pictorial genesis. Klee is a major presence in Deleuze’s late writings on art, and in a few fleeting remarks in Logic of Sensation and A Thousand Plateaus he affirms Klee’s conception of grey as the ‘chaos-germ’ that unlocks dimensions of sensation and inaugurates new registers of experience. Through a close reading of these passages, I argue for the importance of the grey-point in Deleuze’s constructivist philosophy of art. I demonstrate the function of the grey point in Deleuze’s critique of Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenology (and in turn, Merleau-Ponty’s seminal, and post-Heideggerian, reading of Klee in his 1964 Eye and Mind). As a differentiator that functions in the interstices between tone and colours, grey catastrophises the transcendental and primordial unity of the sensible with the ‘cosmic’ forces of the ‘outside’, acting as a vector for a transcendental constructivism aligned with what might be called a ‘haptic modernism’. Touching on a constellation of notions - rhythm, the diagram, haptic and the abstract line - and exploring how these function in The Grey man and the Coast, I unpack this conceptual terrain whilst indicating a few ways the concept of the grey-point may open new lines of articulation for art history.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2018
EventGrey on Grey - University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway
Duration: 22 May 201823 May 2018


ConferenceGrey on Grey


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