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Died: 29th June 1940
Paul Klee is a Swiss-Born German artist best known for his seemingly unstudied paintings and drawings incorporating imaginative, mysterious, and abstracted symbols and shapes. Stick figures and geometric faces in blocks of color wash, are recurring themes. Klee is closely tied to the Bauhaus school in Weimar and Dessau. His work touches on a broad continuum of themes ranging from literature to music to poetry, lighting upon child-like fantasy and often suggesting a mischievous sense of humor.
Klee was born in Münchenbuchsee, near Bern, Switzerland, in 1879, to a musician father. Music impacted the artist from an early age. Klee married Lily Strumpf in 1906, and the couple moved to Munich, the city that begat his exposure to modern art. It was here, in 1911, that he began his association with Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider), an expressionist group, founded by Wassily Kandinsky and Franz Marc in 1911. Kandinsky subsequently became a close friend, confidante, and mentor throughout Klee's life. His involvement with Der Blaue Reiter stimulated an interest in the international avant-garde scene, and a trip to Tunisia in 1914 marked a turn in his work. At this point he began to bring together naturalism with his personal aesthetic style, as well as abstracting his use of color. "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," he said. The onset of the war brought a close to Blaue Reiter in 1914; Klee was drafted into military service in 1917, where he managed to continue to draw and paint while at his post throught 1918.
Walter Gropius invited Klee to join the newly established Staatliches Bauhaus at Weimar in 1920. The next three years at the Bauhaus marked a high point in Klee's career. Nearly half of the existing body of Klee's some 10,000 works were creating during his 10 years at Bauhaus. Klee went on to teach in Düsseldorf from 1931-1933 at the end of which time his work was decried in the name of entartete kunst, a Nazi movement against avant-garde work. Klee was promptly dismissed from his post; he returned to Bern, where he worked through the remaining years of his life until he died in 1940.
Watch a montage of Klee's work:(read less)
Techniques & Media: Drawing, Painting
Inspirations & Key Themes: literature, music, Poetry
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