Paul Klee

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The iconic Swiss-born Germany based twentieth century painter, Paul Klee was known for his individual style surrealist, expressionist and cubist’s works. Besides Klee was a gifted draftsman. He experimented and explored the color theory in depth in his writing and lecture, Writings on Form and Design Theory.

Born on December 18, 1879, Paul Klee grew up in Münchenbuchsee near Bern, Switzerland. His father, Hans Wilhelm Klee, was a music teacher and mother, Ida Marie Klee, Swiss singer. Klee received violin lessons at the Municipal Music School. His musical prowess grew at exponential rate and when he turned 11 he was invited to play the instrument as young extraordinary talented member of the Bern Music Association. It was his parents’ wishes that he fulfilled by focusing on music in his preteens. Later he changed his mind and diverted his attention toward visual art. The change of heart was part due to teenage rebellion phase and partly his lack of believe in modern music. Klee practiced 18th and 19th century music and felt emotionally bound to it.

When Klee was in school he began to sketch in his school books. He drew caricatures with skills of a gifted artist. His parents displayed lukewarm response to his knack of drawing and reluctantly gave permission to attend the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich to study arts in 1898. Notwithstanding his flair for drawing, he lacked in the department of colors. Upon earning his Fine Arts degree, he went off to Italy in 1901. He accompanied with a friend, Hermann Haller, and they stayed in the Europe’s hub of arts, Rome, Florence, and Naples and thoroughly studied the iconic painters.

While exploring the painters’ body of work, Klee noted that he had a long way to go in terms of employing colors to his work. He believed that colors represented optimism which his black and white drawings were in complete opposition of. Upon his return to Switzerland, he stayed with his parents while periodically taking arts classes. In the following years, he experimented with needle work on a blackened pane of glass. This new technique produced fifty-seven works including his Portrait of My Father. His first exhibited work was a cycle of eleven zinc-plate etchings titled, Inventions. The artwork featured several grotesque characters. Despite his inclination toward painting, Klee didn’t abandon music altogether. He continued to play violin in an orchestra while writing theater and concert reviews.

In 1906, he married Bavarian pianist Lily Stumpf. In the next few years, Klee tried his luck at becoming a magazine illustrator, however, he failed to succeed. His work slowed down henceforth due to his domestic life and new art experiments. Eventually, he announced a solo exhibition in 1910 which later traveled to three more cities. He met an Austrian print-maker, Alfred Kubin, who suggested him to illustrate the French satire Candide, ou l’Optimisme, one of the works of Voltaire. Klee prolifically produced graphic art around this period. Kubin applauded his satirical dark illustrations and soon became his steadfast companion and collector of his work.

The Munich artists’ union Sema was co-founded by Paul Klee along with other members and he also managed it.  Moreover, he joined the editorial team of the almanac Der Blaue Reiter, run by Kandinsky and Franz Marc. Its first exhibition was held at Moderne Galerie Heinrich Thannhauser in 1911.

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