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Paul Klee

Paul Klee

Paul Klee

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Paul Klee’s was a Swiss born painter, with a unique style that was influenced by expressionism, cubism, surrealism, and orientalism. His written collections of lectures, Writings on Form and Design Theory are considered as important to modern art as Leonardo da Vinci’s written works were to the Renaissance. As a child, Klee was mainly oriented as a musician, having played the violin since he was eight, but in his teen years, he found that art allowed him freedom to explore his style and express his radical ideas. Although Klee is now considered a master of color theory, he spent a long time in his search for his sense of color. At first, Klee drew in black and white, saying he would never be a painter. But as an adult, after a visit to Tunisia, in which he was impressed by the quality of light, he had found his sense of color and began experimenting with his newfound decision to be a painter.

Klee spent much of his adult life teaching at various universities and art schools, including the German Bauhaus School of Art and Düsseldorf Academy. During his tenure at Düsseldorf, he was singled out as a Jew by the Nazi party. The Gestapo searched his home and he was fired from his job. Some of his later works were also seized by the Nazis.

Although the artist was born in Switzerland, he was not born a Swiss citizen. His father was a German national, and citizenship being decided on paternity, Klee was born a German citizen. His request for Swiss citizenship was not granted until six days after his untimely death from undiagnosed scleroderma. Klee’s legacy includes over 9,000 works of art, which have inspired many other painting and musical compositions. In 1938 he was immortalized by Steinway Pianos in their “Paul Klee Series” pianos.

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Paul Klee (German: [paʊ̯l ˈkleː]; 18 December 1879 – 29 June 1940) was a Swiss German artist. His highly individual style was influenced by movements in art that included Expressionism, Cubism, and Surrealism. Klee was a natural draftsman who experimented with and eventually deeply explored color theory, writing about it extensively; his lectures Writings on Form and Design Theory (Schriften zur Form und Gestaltungslehre), published in English as the Paul Klee Notebooks, are held to be as important for modern art as Leonardo da Vinci's A Treatise on Painting for the Renaissance. He and his colleague, Russian painter Wassily Kandinsky, both taught at the Bauhaus school of art, design and architecture. His works reflect his dry humor and his sometimes childlike perspective, his personal moods and beliefs, and his musicality.

Paul Klee was born in Münchenbuchsee, Switzerland, as the second child of German music teacher Hans Wilhelm Klee (1849–1940) and Swiss singer Ida Marie Klee, née Frick (1855–1921). His sister Mathilde (died 6 December 1953) was born on 28 January 1876 in Walzenhausen. Their father came from Tann and studied at the Stuttgart Conservatory singing, piano, organ and violin, meeting there his future wife Ida Frick. Hans Wilhelm Klee was active as a music teacher at the Bern State Seminary in Hofwil near Bern until 1931. Klee was able to develop his music skills as his parents encouraged and inspired him until his death. In 1880, his family moved to Bern, where they eventually, in 1897, after a number of changes of residence, moved into their own house in the Kirchenfeld district (de). From 1886 to 1890, Klee visited primary school and received, at the age of 7, violin classes at the Municipal Music School. He was so talented on violin that, aged 11, he received an invitation to play as an extraordinary member of the Bern Music Association.

In his early years, following his parents’ wishes, Klee focused on becoming a musician; but he decided on the visual arts during his teen years, partly out of rebellion and partly because of a belief that modern music lacked meaning for him. He stated, "I didn't find the idea of going in for music creatively particularly attractive in view of the decline in the history of musical achievement." As a musician, he played and felt emotionally bound to traditional works of the eighteenth and nineteenth century, but as an artist he craved the freedom to explore radical ideas and styles. At sixteen, Klee’s landscape drawings already show considerable skill.

Around 1897, Klee started his diary, which he kept until 1918, and which has provided scholars with valuable insight into his life and thinking. During his school years, he avidly drew in his school books, in particular drawing caricatures, and already demonstrating skill with line and volume. He barely passed his final exams at the "Gymnasium" of Bern, where he qualified in the Humanities. With his characteristic dry wit, he wrote, "After all, it’s rather difficult to achieve the exact minimum, and it involves risks." On his own time, in addition to his deep interests in music and art, Klee was a great reader of literature, and later a writer on art theory and aesthetics.

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