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Paul Klee was born in 1879 in Switzerland. He adopted his father’s German nationality,
something he later came to regret.
In 1898 he enrolled at The Academy of Fine Arts in Munich and studied under Heinrich
Knirr and Franz von Stuck. The latter also taught Wassily Kandinsky. Although their
time under Franz von Stuck overlapped, (Kandinsky started in 1900), Klee didn’t become
friends with Kandinsky until much later, in Munich in 1911. Klee was a member of
Kandinsky’s group the “Blaue Reiter” (The Blue Rider). His early years were spent
searching for an artistic style to call his own. He worked with oils, water colours,
ink and others, sometimes combining all these into a single artwork.
Shown here, “Red
Balloon”- Paul Klee
He produced work which could be categorised under several art “isms” at the time
including cubism, surrealism and expressionism.
His work expressed his personality, his moods his sense of humour and sometimes had
an innocent childlike quality.
Constantly struggling with colour in his work he had a breakthrough in 1914 when
he visited Tunisia. Klee was enchanted by the quality of the light there. He wrote,
“Colour has taken possession of me; no longer do I have to chase after it, I know
that it has hold of me forever ... Colour and I are one. I am a painter”.
With that revelation he gave up depicting nature and moved increasingly into abstraction.
His first completely abstract work was called, “In the Style of Kairouan,” painted
When World War I erupted he was initially detached from it. Inevitably though it
had an impact on him, after having two friends killed he was horrified and it inspired
him to create some harsh pen and ink imagery denouncing the horror. In 1916 he joined
the German army although his father managed to pull some strings and get him doing
clerical work and painting camouflage rather than fighting at the front. During the
war he continued to paint and exhibit and his paintings sold well.
He kept a diary which gives us a clear insight into his work and personal life. During
his early student years he spent a lot of time in bars picking up low class women.
Shown below,”the Red Bridge”, Pual Klee
Later on in Munich he met and married pianist Lily Stumpf who brought in money by
giving piano lessons while he busied himself with his art. They had one child, a
He taught at the Bauhaus in Germany from 1921 and his friend Wassily Kandinsky came
to teach there a year later. Klee wrote a book called The Thinking Eye during his
years at the Bauhaus putting forward his artistic philosophy. Like Kandinsky his
art was classified as “degenerate” by Hitler and the Nazi party. Over a hundred pieces
of his work in public collections were removed by the Nazis.
Klee had suffered from a wasting disease, scleroderma, and he died in Switzerland
in 1940. He was often in pain and this was reflected in his work. He had applied
for Swiss nationality before and had been refused because the authorities considered
his art to be too radical. Ironically they finally accepted his application 6 days
after his death.
Below, Red and White Domes, 1914,Paul Klee
He left behind a staggering 10,000 pieces
of work. A hugely creative man who flitted from style to style before he settled
on one and became the master of it. He is considered one of the most influential
artists of the 20th century.
Paul Klee paintings are amongst the best selling prints, posters and canvases gracing
living rooms, bedrooms and offices the world over. We hope you’ve enjoyed our facts
about Paul Klee and we’ve inspired you to own some Paul Klee art for yourself.
Born in Switzerland in 1879, died Switzerland 1940
Took German nationality like his father.
Artistic breakthrough came when he “discoveredcolour”, in Tunisia, declaring “now
I am a painter”
Contemporary of Kandinsky and taught at The Bauhaus school of art in Germany until
Hard to classify as his work covered cubism, expressionism and surrealism.
He’s best known for his abstract paintings
Kept a diary, and while a student trawled bars and had affairs with ‘low class women’
8 His work was considered ‘degenerate’ by Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party
Was awarded Swiss nationality 6 weeks after his death. As an adult he’d repeatedly
been refused Swiss nationality because his work was considered dangerous 10
Hugely prolific. Left behind a phenomenal 10,000 pieces of work