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Paul Klee The Bauhaus Master And Father Of Abstraction Was An Excellent Art Teacher And His 100-Year-Old Art Theories Are Still Influential, Relevant and Taught Today!

Paul Klee The Bauhaus Master And Father Of Abstraction Was An Excellent Art Teacher And His 100-Year-Old Art Theories Are Still Influential, Relevant and Taught Today!

Paul Klee’s In The Desert Detail 1914

The work of the Swiss Artist Paul Klee shows that he was truly the master of Modernism, his style reflected his influence of Expressionism, Surrealism and Cubism.  Paul Klee who stated that he enjoyed ‘taking a line for a walk’. Klee was a defining voice of 1920s Bauhaus, he began his career in the dying days of the German Art Nouveau, Jugendstil, before becoming an important proponent of the Expressionist ‘Blue Rider’ movement of the 1910s. By the 1920s he had forged a unique aesthetic of abstraction that, as he once said, “does not reproduce the visible; rather it makes visible”

GOOGLE Salute to Paul Klee’s 139th Birthday Doodle

Google Doodle celebrates the 139th birthday of Paul Klee (December 18, 1879 - June 29, 1940,) the influential Swiss-German artist. Influenced by movements such as cubism, surrealism, and expressionism, Paul Klee explored numerous styles to develop his own approach to art-making—both rigorous and childlike—which defies categorization.   Today’s Doodle pays homage to his Rote Brücke (Red Bridge), a 1928 work that transforms the rooftops and arches of a European city into a pattern of shapes rendered in contrasting yet harmonious hues. As Klee wrote in his diary, in 1914: “Color and I are one… I am a painter.

From Google Info

Paul Klee’s Self Portrait 1927

Paul Klee was born on 1879 near Bern Switzerland.  His father Hans Klee was a music teacher, and his mother was a musician. As a boy Paul learned to play violin. He received a well-rounded classical education in the in Bern. Ancient Greek, modern French, classic and contemporary French and German art, and literature were his favorites. Klee was gifted as both a musician and an artist.

Klee was restless unsatisfied with his education and left the Academy and traveled in Italy in 1901 to 1902. His early artistic work was exclusively pen-and-ink drawings and etchings, some of which were satirical.

Paul Klee and Wife Lily Stumpf 1906

In 1906, Klee married the pianist Lily Stumpf and they settled in Munich, then an important center of avant-garde art. In 1910-11 Klee had his first major exhibitions. He contributed 17 graphic works to the the exhibition of Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider), the avant-garde artistic society founded by W. Kandinsky and Franz Marc. That same year Klee visited Robert Delaunay in Paris. The latter’s influence on Klee’s development is considered the strongest outside his immediate circle of avant-garde Munich painters.

Paul Klee’s In The Beginning 1916

In April 1914 he and fellow painters August Macke and Louis Molliet visited Tunisia. Klee returned from the trip inspired and stated that he now understood light in a new way.

During the First World War, Klee was called up for infantry training and then attached to an air force unit where he repaired damaged aircraft, painting their numbers and insignia. Though Klee had few opportunities for artistic work, he managed to do some painting on aircraft canvas. In 1918 he returned to Munich. The avant-garde circle in Munich had been dispersed - Macke and Franz Marc had been killed while Kandinsky had returned to Russia. Klee stayed in Munich alone and continued to develop his ideas.


“Art does not reproduce what we see; rather, it makes us see”. Paul Klee

Paul Klee’s The Temple Gardens 1920

In November 1920 Klee was invited to teach at the Bauhaus at Weimar, where his friend W. Kandinsky would become a faculty member in 1922. Bauhaus was an innovative school aiming at uniting fine and applied arts and architecture in a new manner suitable for an industrial age. Klee’s teaching included lecturing with demonstrations on form and color in relation to nature and also supervising bookbinding, metal and weaving workshops.

 Klee’s Pedagogical Sketchbook, one of his essays on art theory, was published in Bauhaus in 1925. In the essay Klee defined and analyzed the primary visual elements and the ways in which they could be applied.

For more information about this and a great illustrated article see the Tate Museum story:  https://www.studiointernational.com/index.php/paul-klee


In April 1931, two years before the Bauhaus was closed by the Nazis, Klee resigned to take up a professorship at the Düsseldorf Academy of Fine Arts. He held the post for only two years before the Nazi campaign against modern artists brought about his dismissal. In 1933, Klee left Germany to return to Switzerland. In the summer of 1935 the symptoms of his fatal illness (later diagnosed as sclerodermia) appeared. He was in pain but he remained productive to the end, which came in June 1940.

A photo taken in 1925 of Paul Klee in his Weimar workshop

Paul Klee created over 9000 works of art in his lifetime. Most art critics highly appreciate Klee’s contribution to the development of art in the 20th century. He was extremely inventive, bravely experimented with styles and materials, and the visual effects they gave, ignoring rules and fashion.

Here are a few interesting facts About Paul Klee:

Paul Klee’s The Drummer 1940

1.) Klee was a talented musician.

Young Paul studied violin at seven years-old. His talent earned him an invitation to join the Bern Music Association four years later. As a painter he often practiced his violin to warm up before painting.

Paul Klee’s  what am i missing 1930

2.) He enjoyed creating comic and caricature drawings.

Klee expressed his mocking attitudes toward people and establishments through comic sketches. His illustrations went ignored during his lifetime

Paul Klee’s Red Balloon 1922

3.) Klee’s stylistic approach was inspired and greatly influenced by children

He admired the unstudied simplicity and expressive freedom in children’s drawings. He drew like a draftsman, adding symbols including letters, hieroglyphics and musical notation.

 4.) Paul Klee was born in Switzerland, but considered a German citizen.

Due to Swiss law, he held his father’s citizenship and was called for duty by the Germans during World War I. Legislation exempted him from combat because he was an artist. Instead, Klee worked as a clerk and painted camouflage on aircraft.

Paul Klee’s Senecio-1922

5.) Klee had two distinct drawing techniques.

One of Paul Klee’s earliest works were drawn on a blackened pane of glass using a needle. The rough outlines that defined his post-war works were achieved through oil transfer. His drawings were traced onto watercolor paper using transfer paper layered with gummy black ink.

Paul Klee’s Crystalline Landscape 1929

6.) Klee was sought after and esteemed art teacher.

At the Bauhaus, his lectures were compiled in a collection containing over 3,300 pages. This compilation, regarded as the bible for contemporary artists, is called the “Paul Klee Notebooks”.

Paul Klee’s Sail Boats 1927

7.) He died of a painful progressive autoimmune rheumatic disease scleroderma

Near death and in pain, Paul Klee created “Death and Fire”, one of the most popular depictions of mortality. It has the word “tod” (German for death) hidden twice in the painting.

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Paul Klee, 1939

Further Research:

Paul Klee's Beginnings 1922


Paul Klee: from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Paul Klee 1879-1940 The Metropolitan Museum of Art Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History


Paul Klee-The Tate Museum



Paul Klee's Seaside Resort in the South of France 1927


Paul Klee: Selected by Genius, 1917-33 by Roland Doschka, Ernst-Gerhard Guse, Christian Rumelin, Victoria Salley, Stadthalle Balingen. Prestel Publishing, 2001.


The Paul Klee Catalogue Raisonne, Volume 9 (1940) by The Paul Klee Foundation. Thames & Hudson, 2004.


The Diaries of Paul Klee, 1898-1918 by Paul Klee, Felix Klee (editor). University of California Press, 1964.


Paul Klee: 1879-1940 (Basic Art) by Susanna Partsch. Taschen, 2000.


Paul Klee: Painting Music (Pegasus Library) by Hajo Duchting. Prestel, 1997.



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