• gerard van weyenbergh

Paul Klee, his art, + video Youtube

In short

Poet of abstraction, fascinated by the light of distant lands and the magic of nature, Paul Klee (1879 - 1940) is as much a talented painter as a great watercolorist. Professor at the Bauhaus, during the interwar period, the theoretical painter developed a singular approach to color. Considered a Jew by the Nazis, classified in the category of degenerate painters, he had to flee Germany and died at the start of World War II. A tragic fate for a dreamy painter. His work, although colorful and turned towards an inner reality, also reflects the oppressions experienced.

He said

"Art does not reproduce the visible, it makes visible. "


His life

Paul Klee was born in Germany but is of Swiss origin and culture. Moreover, a year after his birth, his parents settled in Switzerland, in Bern. The artist's childhood is steeped in music, his father being a teacher and his mother a singer. The young boy practices the violin. If music is his first vocation, painting also attracts him, and it is ultimately towards the plastic arts that he is moving.

In 1898, Klee returned to Germany. He undertakes art studies. To practice, he also travels to Italy and then to France. In 1906, the painter married a young pianist, and the couple moved to Munich. It was in this city that Post-Impressionism touched him with full force. During an exhibition, he discovered Vincent Van Gogh and Paul Cézanne . It's a shock.

In Munich, he meets the members of the Blaue Reiter , led by Vassily Kandinsky . In 1912, he participated in the group's second exhibition, composed exclusively of graphic works.

Klee went to Tunisia two years later, a few months before the Great War outbreak; the painter August Macke accompanies him. It is a dazzling of colors and sensations. During the war, the artist was called up for the German flags. He is in charge of a safe mission, as secretary of the air school in Gersthofen, near Munich.

Of abstract tendency, the art of Paul Klee is made of colors and symbols. The artist is a mystic, fascinated by nature's magic but not reproducing reality in an illusionist way. For him, art is a means of accessing an unfathomable truth, more profound than things' visible surface.

Appointed professor at the Bauhaus after the war ( where he taught art theory in particular ), Klee exhibited more and more and went to Egypt during 1929. In Germany, his work was frowned upon by the Nazis, who consider him a degenerate artist and forbid his art. He moved to Switzerland. During the 1930s, an incurable disease broke out, and Klee was condemned. He died in 1940, three years after the Nazis presented 17 of his works in the "Degenerate Art" exhibition in Munich.


His key works

Paul Klee © Malmo Modern Museet

Kairun Before the Gate, 1914

After his trip to Tunisia, the artist felt himself to be a true painter and the year a significant production of watercolors. He has not yet joined the German army. Paul Klee feels "possessed" by color and translates the landscape with certain abstraction qualities, although he remains attached to reality's representation. In this watercolor, we can easily distinguish a house's silhouette, but it dissolves into squares of warm and cold colors.

Paul Klee © Kunst Museum Basel

Polyphony, chessboard structure, 1932

Testimony to the importance of music in the life and work of Paul Klee, the word polyphony was chosen by the artist to title several works representing ordered arrangements of colors, in the form of grids. They are harmonic structures with moving outlines. Klee asserted that it was color that made him a painter. We also feel the influence that modern abstract currents may have had on him, particularly Vassily Kandinsky and Robert Delaunay's work.

© Beaux-arts Magazine, Claire Maingon

Video : Klee 277 works