Angelus Novus  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Angelus Novus[1] is a watercolour by Paul Klee, painted in 1920, and now in the collection of the Israel Museum, Jerusalem.

In his ninth thesis in the essay “Theses on the Philosophy of History,” Walter Benjamin, who owned the painting for many years, describes:

"A Klee painting named Angelus Novus shows an angel looking as though he is about to move away from something he is fixedly contemplating. His eyes are staring, his mouth is open, his wings are spread. This is how one pictures the angel of history. His face is turned toward the past. Where we perceive a chain of events, he sees one single catastrophe which keeps piling wreckage upon wreckage and hurls it in front of his feet. The angel would like to stay, awaken the dead, and make whole what has been smashed. But a storm is blowing from Paradise; it has got caught in his wings with such violence that the angel can no longer close them. The storm irresistibly propels him into the future to which his back is turned, while the pile of debris before him grows skyward. This storm is what we call progress." --tr. Harry Zohn

Otto Karl Werckmeister has commented that Benjamin's interpretation of the angel has led to it becoming "an icon of the left".

The name and concept of the angel has inspired works by other artists and musicians.




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Angelus Novus" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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