Paul Klee was born on Dec. 18, 1879, in Münchenbuchsee, Switzerland. His childhood love of music, which had strong effects on his life and work, was forged by his family, who were all musicians. Paul Klee’s art is often categorized as humorous and highly influenced by dreams, music and poetry. A combination of art forms from surrealism to childish, Klee’s works were small and soft. He described his own work as "Taking a line for a walk".

During a period of three years from 1898 to 1901, Klee studied under Heinrich Knirr in Munich. Although a violinist, Klee chose to study art, and he attended the Munich Academy in 1900 to study under Franz von Stuck.

To nurse his creativity after his studies, Klee went to Italy and finally landed in Bern in 1902. In 1903, Klee’s works were etchings and pen and ink, and were heavily influenced by Francisco de Goya. The most famous examples from this period are Virgin in a Tree and Two Men Meet, Each Believing the Other to Be of Higher Rank. In 1906 a series of satirical etchings exhibited at the Munich Secession brought some fame to Klee. In the same year, Klee married a pianist named Lily Stumpf, and they moved to Munich. The move to Munich proved to be promising, for Klee was exposed to Modern art. In Munich, Klee’s art was shown at the Kunstmuseum (Art museum) Bern in 1910 and at Moderne Galerie, Munich, in 1911.

After gaining fame, Klee met several famous avant-garde artists: Alexej Jawlensky, Vasily Kandinsky, August Macke, Franz Marc. Klee went on to show his art at Galerie Hans Goltz, Munich, in 1912 and the Erste deutsche Herbstsalon (Babelfish says: First German autumn salon) at the Der Sturm Gallery, Berlin, in 1913.

For a well deserved vacation, Klee visited Paris in 1912. There, he was exposed to the work of Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso. Klee then went on to help found the Neue Müncher Secession in 1914.

After a trip to Tunisia in 1914, Klee started focusing on colors in his art. Klee wrote:
"Color has taken possession of me; no longer do I have to chase after it, I know that it has hold of me forever. That is the significance of this blessed moment. Color and I are one. I am a painter."
His newfound passion for color brought his famous Red and White Domes , which is quite characteristic of the time.

Around 1917, Klee’s paintings incorporated rich symbols and complex language that Klee explained, were drawn from the unconscious: "Art does not reproduce the visible, it makes visible." Klee continued this thought by exploring many different media's and artistic methods

By 1920 Klee gained fame enough to merit a retrospective at the Galerie Hans Goltz, Munich. At the same time he became a teacher of art. Klee taught at the Bauhaus (a German, state sponsored school for art, architecture, and design) in Weimar from 1921 to 1926 and then when the school was relocated to Dessau from 1926 to 1931. Teaching at Bauhaus allowed Klee to associate with other masters such as Kandinsky and Lyonel Feininger.

Die Blaue Vier (The blue 4, or the four biggest names from Der Blue Reiter), a group consisting of Lyonel Feininger, Jawlensky, Kandinsky, and Klee, was founded in 1924. The group greatly contributed to the advancement of abstract art. About this time Klee’s art was showcased at Société Anonyme, New York, in 1924; then his first major show in Paris occurred a year later at the Galerie Vavin-Raspail; next his work was shown at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 1930.

Klee had another short stint of teaching shortly before the Nazis forced him to stop in 1933. Klee went back to Bern in 1934. The Nazis used seventeen of Klee's works to show examples of what they called “degenerate art” (Entartete Kunst)

Rather than flat out painting an object, person or place in a traditional form, Klee gave a personal, abstract system that are figurative pieces of beauty. He took the world and filtered it through his subconscious, his dreams, and his words, then painted.

Klee developed scleroderma, which forced his to changed his art style, and was eventually killed by the disease. Although his final paintings were dark and focused on death and war, his final painting, Still Life, is a peaceful amalgam of his life. Klee had exhibitions in Bern and Zurich before dying on June 29, 1940 in Switzerland.

    A partial list of Klee’s most famous works (msg me to update, to list all would make this node HUGE!)

  • La belle jardinière (ein Biedermeiergespenst)
  • 1914 Guess when!
  • Red and White Domes 1914; Watercolor and body color on Japanese, vellum mounted on cardboard, 14.6 x 13.7 cm; Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Dusseldorf.
  • Remembrance of a Garden 1914; Watercolor on linen paper mounted on cardboard, 25.2 x 21.5 cm; Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Dusseldorf.
  • Southern (Tunisian) Gardens 1919; Watercolor, 9.5 x 7.5 in; Collection Heinz Berggruen, Paris.
  • Dream City 1921; Watercolor and oil, 18 7/8 x 12 1/4 in; Private collection, Turin.
  • The Golden Fish1925 ; Oil and watercolor on paper, mounted on cardboard, 50 x 69 cm (19 1/8 x 27 in); Kunsthalle, Hamburg.
  • Ancient Sound, Abstract on Black 1925; Oil on cardboard, 15 x 15 in; Kunstsammlung, Basel.
  • Highway and Byways 1929; Oil on canvas, 32 5/8 x 26 3/8 in; Collection Christoph and Andreas Vowinckel.
  • Ad Parnassum1932; Oil on canvas, 100 x 126 cm (39 x 49 in).
  • Southern Gardens 1936; Oil on paper, mounted on cardboard, 10 3/8 x 12 1/4 in; Collection Norman Granz, Geneva.
  • Legend of the Nile 1937; Pastel on cotton cloth mounted on burlap, 69 x 61 cm (27 1/8 x 24 in); Kunstmuseum Bern.
  • Insula Dulcamara 1938; Oil on newsprint, mounted on burlap, 31 1/2 x 69 in; Klee Foundation, Bern.
  • Park of Idols 1939; Watercolor on blackened paper, 14 x 8 1/4 in; Collection Felix Klee, Bern.
  • Embrace 1939; Paste color, watercolor, and oil on paper, 9 1/2 x 12 1/4 in; Collection Dr. Bernhard Sprengel, Hanover
  • Captive 1940; Oil on burlap, 18 7/8 x 17 3/8 in; Collection Mr. and Mrs. Frederick Zimmerman, New York.
  • Sinbad the Sailor aka Battle Scene from the Comic Opera "The Seafarer" (1923)
Works Cited:
The Guggenheim Website. (
WebMuseum: Klee, Paul. (
Paul Klee. (

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