Paul Klee

"Art does not reproduce the visible but makes visible."

- Klee's first sentence in his 'Schöpferische Konfession', begun 1918; published 1920

The Swiss painter Klee created art out of his knowledge of music, literature and art theory. His dreamlike paintings, drawings and prints, though often childlike and playful, are among the most sophisticated artworks of the twentieth century. Klee taught at the Bauhaus schools in Weimar and Dessau. His art theory remains extremely influential.

Klee studied art in Munich with Heinrich Knirr and Franz von Stuck at the Munich Academy in 1900-01. In 1901 he visited Italy, admiring Roman antiquities. Klee's early etchings reflect the influence of Symbolism. He studied older art in the Louvre in 1905, and was greatly influenced by modern French art. Klee admired Van Gogh, Cézanne and Matisse. He attended Impressionist and Post-Impressionist exhibitions, and was strongly influenced by the 'Orphism' of Robert Delaunay, whom he met in 1912, and the 'Blaue Reiter'. He visited Tunisia in 1914 and Egypt in 1928. He was interested in children's art, and non-Western art. Klee's poetic approach to artmaking inspired the Surrealists, the artists Joan Miro and André Masson, and the Abstract Expressionists.

Klee excelled in drawing and music from childhood. He played the violin daily, and married a pianist. Klee settled in Munich, joining the 'Blaue Reiter' group in 1911-12. He made prints until inspired to paint bright watercolours by a visit to Tunisia in 1912. During WWI he painted imaginary gardens. From 1918, he worked in oils. Klee developed his art theories while teaching and making art at the Staatliches Bauhaus in Weimar, from 1920. In 1933 the Nazis dismissed Klee and removed his art from museums. He moved to the Düsseldorf Academy, but in 1935 was classified as a 'degenerate artist' by the Nazis, and suspended from his position. Klee returned to Berne, his art reflecting this traumatic experience (Angst, 1934). He developed the progressive disease scleroderma in 1935. As his health failed, Klee became hugely productive. His late works express his innermost feelings, often about death.