Paul Klee painted Equals Infinity quite late on in his career, in 1932 when he was aged 53. The title of the painting is seemingly oxymoronic, as it is self contradictory to say that any one single thing can equal infinity, in other words one single thing can equal everything.
However the message of Equals Infinity is deep one which relates back to Klee's upbringing and past.
Paul Klee's father had been a violin teacher and singer, and is thought to have heavily encouraged Klee to follow such a career path, before he became set on becoming an artist. Music had a special place in Klee's heart and influenced his work. When painting Equals Infinity Klee had began to use an unprecedented pointillist approach, using small circles and points to make shapes on a larger scale.
To Klee, the way in which ordered patterns of small shapes turned into meaningful images when combined together was analogous to the way in which small, individual notes of music coupled together to make melodies, chords, and masterpieces. Equals Infinity is, on the one hand, Klee's attempt to demonstrate the key principle underpinning the way music works through visual means.
This message is portrayed most explicitly by the infinity symbol in the painting, which Klee paints in the shape of the 'f' hole on a violin, linking back to his father's profession.
Musical instruments were commonly found in the work of major cubist artists, such as Juan Gris, Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque.
The painting is also regarded to be a symbol of Klee's worldview that so much of human culture and life can be boiled down to the same fundamental elements. The majority of Equals Infinity is composed entirely of small dots in various patters and colours to produce an overall image.
The painting demonstrates the nature of mathematics in the geometric nature and patterns of the shapes and signs used. It demonstrates music as described above, and overall it existentially depicts art, simply by being a painting.
The overall message is one of similarity and unity, and Klee's philosophy of how everything in the universe is fundamentally the same.