Paul Klee was born in Munchenbuchsee, near Bern, Switzerland, into a musical family. He studied art in Munich with Heinrich Knirr and Franz von Stuck. After travelling to Italy and then back to Bern, he settled in Munich, where he met Vasily Kandinsky, Hans Marc and other avant-garde figures, and became associated with the Blaue Reiter.
In 1914, he visited Tunisia and was impressed by the quality of the light there, writing "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." Klee worked in oil paint, watercolours, ink and other media, often combining them in one work.
His pictures often have a fragile child-like quality to them, and are usually on a small scale. 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.
His better known works include Southern (Tunisian) Gardens (1919), Ad Parnassum (1932) and Embrace (1939). Following World War I, Klee taught at the Bauhaus, and from 1931 at the Dusseldorf Academy, before being denounced by the Nazi Party for producing "degenerate art". In 1933, Paul Klee returned to Switzerland where he died in Bern. Today, a painting by Paul Klee can sell for as much as US$7.5 million.
Like looking into a rock pool!
Location:Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.
This half-abstract, half-representational scene was created just one year before Klee started creating purely abstract art. Poised above this charming cityscape, a red balloon is detached from the rest of the composition, extending the overall visual sensation of drifting lightness and freedom of movement. In the Red Balloon, Klee may have used a special oil transfer drawing technique he developed in an effort to create the misty texture of his lithographs, in his paintings. He brushed a thinned oil paint onto one side of a piece of paper, then like making a carbon copy, he drew on the back of the painted sheet with a pen or stylus. The resulting lines have a feathered, smudged quality. (source: Guggenheim Museum)
Location:The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, USA
Klee visited Tunisia and discovered colour: "Colour has taken possession of me; no longer do I have to chase after it, I know that it has hold of me forever. That is the significance of this blessed moment. Colour and I are one. I am a painter."
"In the final analysis, a drawing simply is no longer a drawing, no matter how self-sufficient its execution may be. It is a symbol, and the more profoundly the imaginary lines of projection meet higher dimensions, the better." (Paul Klee) "Everything vanishes around me, and works are born as if out of the void. Ripe, graphic fruits fall off. My hand has become the obedient instrument of a remote will." (Paul Klee)
Location:Kunstmuseum, Bern, Germany
Paul Klee loved the art of children. He admired their freedom to deal so directly dealing with colours and forms without any formal distractions. " Do not laugh, reader! Children also have artistic ability, and there is wisdom in their having it! The more helpless they are, the more instructive are the examples they furnish us...." he said. He liked to approach painting with the innocent spirit of a child.
From 1923 Klee created a series of imaginative color constructions which he called 'magic squares' in which he applied his theories. This series came to a conclusion in 1932 with Ad Parnassum. The graphic element illustrates the gate to Mount Parnassus, the home of Apollo and the Muses, and also may refer to the Pyramids which Klee saw in 1928, and to a mountain near Klee's home.
Learning art through great artists and their paintings is fun and exciting. Our friend and resident artist Stefan Mager has kindly given this introduction to the art world.