Day Thirty-One and wow, today was the worst. I was super grumpy while painting. I’m going to be completely honest with you. My original artist was Van Gogh…I started TWO paintings and ended up scrapping them. Double ugh. Then I decided to switch artists after trying my hardest to stick with Vincent. Today I present to you…Paul Klee!
Paul Klee (18 December 1879 – 29 June 1940) was a painter born in Münchenbuchsee, Switzerland, and is considered to be a German-Swiss. His highly individual style was influenced by movements in art that included expressionism, cubism, andsurrealism. He was also a student of orientalism. Klee was a natural draftsman who experimented with and eventually got deep into 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, the Russian painter Wassily Kandinsky, both taught at the German Bauhaus school of art, design and architecture. His works reflect his dry humour and his sometimes childlike perspective, his personal moods and beliefs, and also his musicality.
First of all, the art of living; then as my ideal profession, poetry and philosophy, and as my real profession, plastic arts;
in the last resort, for lack of income, illustrations.—Paul Klee.
Paul Klee was born as the second child of the German music teacher Hans Wilhelm Klee (1849–1940) and the 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 moved 17 years later after numerous changes of residence into a house at the Kirchenfeld district. 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, he 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, he 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.
With his parents’ reluctant permission, in 1898 he began studying art at the
Academy of Fine Arts in Munich with Heinrich Knirr and Franz von Stuck. He excelled at drawing but seemed to lack any natural color sense. He later recalled, “During the third winter I even realized that I probably would never learn to paint.” During these times of youthful adventure, Klee spent much time in pubs and had affairs with lower class women and artists’ models. He had an illegitimate son in 1900 who died several weeks after birth.
After receiving his Fine Arts degree, Klee went to Italy from October 1901 to May 1902 with friend Hermann Haller. They stayed in Rome, Florence, and Naples, and studied the master painters of past centuries. He exclaimed, “The Forum and the Vatican have spoken to me. Humanism wants to suffocate me.” He responded to the colors of Italy, but sadly noted, “that a long struggle lies in store for me in this field of color.” For Klee, color represented the optimism and nobility in art, and a hope for relief from the pessimistic nature he expressed in his black-and-white grotesques and satires. Returning to Bern, he lived with his parents for several years, and took occasional art classes. By 1905, he was developing some experimental techniques, including drawing with a needle on a blackened pane of glass, resulting in fifty-seven works including his Portrait of My Father (1906). In the years 1903-5 he also completed a cycle of eleven zinc-plate etchings called Inventions, his first exhibited works, in which he illustrated several grotesque characters. He commented, “though I’m fairly satisfied with my etchings I can’t go on like this. I’m not a specialist.” Klee was still dividing his time with music, playing the violin in an orchestra and writing concert and theater reviews.
Klee has been variously associated with Expressionism, Cubism, Futurism, Surrealism,
and Abstraction, but his pictures are difficult to classify. He generally worked in isolation from his peers, and interpreted new art trends in his own way. He was inventive in his methods and technique. Klee worked in many different media—oil paint, watercolor, ink, pastel, etching, and others. He often combined them into one work. He used canvas, burlap, muslin, linen, gauze, cardboard, metal foils, fabric, wallpaper, and newsprint. Klee employed spray paint, knife application, stamping, glazing, and impasto, and mixed media such as oil with watercolor, water color with pen and India ink, and oil with tempera.
He was a natural draftsman, and through long experimentation developed a mastery of color and tonality. Many of his works combine these skills. He uses a great variety of color palettes from nearly monochromatic to highly polychromatic. His works often have a fragile childlike quality to them and are usually on a small scale. He often used geometric forms as well as letters, numbers, and arrows, and combined them with figures of animals and people. Some works were completely abstract. Many of his works and their titles reflect his dry humor and varying moods; some express political convictions. They frequently allude to poetry, music and dreams and sometimes include words or musical notation. The later works are distinguished by spidery hieroglyph-like symbols.Rainer Maria Rilke wrote about Klee in 1921, “Even if you hadn’t told me he plays the violin, I would have guessed that on many occasions his drawings were transcriptions of music.”
Pamela Kort observed: “Klee’s 1933 drawings present their beholder with an unparalleled
opportunity to glimpse a central aspect of his aesthetics that has remained largely unappreciated: his lifelong concern with the possibilities of parody and wit. Herein lies their real significance, particularly for an audience unaware that Klee’s art has political dimensions.”
Among the few plastic works are hand puppets made between 1916 and 1925, for his son Felix. The artist neither counts them as a component of his oeuvre, nor does he list them in his catalogue raisonné. Thirty of the preserved puppets are stored at the Paul Klee Centre, Bern.
Read more of his biography at wikipedia.
I felt a little better switching artists, but to be brutally honest I just did not want to paint at
all today. This is a first and I’m sure it won’t be the last. Hopefully my tribute isn’t absolutely awful, because this artist is great. He paints in so many different ways that it was challenging to pick a specific style to emulate. I decided to look at as many of his paintings as I could and combine a number of his styles. I tried not to obsess too much on his paintings and attempted to infuse my own style in there as well. Whew. I’m just happy to be done for today.
Here is my tribute to Paul Klee. Let’s hope tomorrow is a little better and that my grumpiness fades!