Paul Klee, master of color and rhythm but a free spirit of styles | Culture

Paul Klee, master of color and rhythm but a free spirit of styles | Culture

Paul Klee represents the evolution of the complete artist. He excelled in music thanks to the influence of his parents, who had studied at the Conservatory of Stuttgart singing, piano, violin and organ, and even became a child prodigy with the violin. However, when he opted for visual arts he did it as a cartoonist, discarding the color, although his humanistic and artistic training would accompany him throughout his life, beginning to see a lot there that the reality he wanted to paint. Its development and progression in the art, knowing how to pick up what was interesting in each artistic style, they never distanced him from music, since his works reflect rhythm and poetry, until he became a master in the use of color.

A trip to Tunis meant the revelation of how to use the color palette and began to study and write about the theory of color, becoming a reference among his contemporaries: "Color possesses me, I have no need to pursue it, I know that it owns me forever ... color and I are one thing. I am a painter, "he said. From that moment, his 'Writings on the theory of form and design' are considered so important for the Modern Art that are compared to the importance that the 'Painting Treaty' of the Renaissance has for Leonardo da Vinci.

With more than 9,000 works painted in different stages, his paintings allude almost always to poetry, music and dreams, sometimes including words or musical notes. For Paul Klee Abstraction was a very important instrument to find parallel worlds that he suspected were hidden behind the so-called reality. "A painter should not paint what he sees, but what he will see," he explained. Perhaps because of his free spirit and his conception of painting, he is considered an artist who is always topical and fresh in his work.

Paul Klee was born on that day as today, December 18, 139 years ago, in 1879, in Münchenbuchsee (Switzerland). He was second son, first male of the marriage formed by a professor of German music and a Swiss singer, so at home it soon became clear that he would dedicate himself to the music. A year after being born his family moved to Bern, and there the little Klee combined primary school with violin lessons, receiving an invitation to play as an extraordinary member of the Berne Music Association when he was 11 years old for being a clearly outstanding student .

Following the wishes of his parents, at first he wanted to become a musician, but in adolescence he decided on the visual arts, partly because of rebellion and partly because of the belief that modern music had no meaning for him, although musicality and the rhythm would accompany him for his whole life and they would be reflected in his works. Thanks to the newspaper that he began to write in 1897, one can see his evolution as a draftsman and caricaturist, with mastery of lines and volumes, even his drawings and landscapes that already showed great skill.

With the permission and support of their parents, when Paul Klee He was 21 years old and started studying art at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich with Heinrich Knirr and Franz von Stuck. He excelled in the drawing, but he himself recognized that it would have no sense to capture the natural color of what he painted. Later, he even recalled that "I realized that I would probably never learn to paint."

After obtaining your title Fine artsPaul Klee went to Italy in 1902 for seven months. Together with his friend Hermann Haller they visited Rome, Florence and Naples, and studied the Renaissance master painters. Between 1903 and 1905 he completed a cycle of eleven engravings on a zinc plate called 'Inventions', his first works on display, in which he illustrated various grotesque characters, but he himself realized that "although I am quite satisfied with my engravings, I can not continue like this. I'm not a specialist. " When he returned to Bern he began to develop some experimental techniques, including drawings with a needle in a blackened glass panel, resulting in 57 works, including her 'Portrait of My Father' (1906).

Paul Klee, who still divided his artistic time with music, since he played the violin in an orchestra and wrote scores of concerts and theater critics, he married 1906, at the age of 27, with the Bavarian pianist Lily Stumpf and they had a son named Felix Paul the following year. They lived in a suburb of Munich, and while she was teaching piano and acting occasionally, he took care of the child and tried to do it too, but without focusing too much, on his works of art. In fact, he tried to be a magazine illustrator but he failed, so his artistic career progressed slowly over the next five years as he tried to find a new approach to his art. In 1910 he had the opportunity to make his first solo exhibition in Bern, which then traveled to three Swiss cities.

In January of 1911 Paul Klee he met the art critic Alfred Kubin, who introduced him to other artists and critics. That winter, Klee joined the editorial team of the magazine 'Der Blaue Reiter' (The Blue Horse), co-founded by Franz Marc and Wassily Kandinsky. He started working on color experiments in watercolors and landscapes. Among the members of the Blaue Reiter were August Macke, Gabriele Münter and Marianne von Werefkin. They all shared an interest in Gothic and primitive art and the modern movements of Fauvism and Cubism. The name of the group derives from a pictorial work of Kandinsky of 1903 that as of 1912 served as illustration for the titles of a yearbook with that same name. The first of the two exhibitions of the Blaue Reiter was inaugurated on December 18, 1911. It included 49 works by Henri Rousseau, Albert Bloch, Heinrich Campendonk, Robert Delaunay, Kandinsky, Klee and Macke.

His trips to Paris in 1912 were also for Paul Klee the ferment of Cubism. The use of color by Robert Delaunay and Maurice de Vlaminck also inspired him, but instead of copying these artists, Klee began to develop his own color experiments in pale watercolors and made some primitive landscapes using blocks of color with an overlay limited. Klee acknowledged that "a long struggle in this field of color awaits me" to achieve a "noble and distant goal," but shortly thereafter I would discover "the style that connects drawing and the realm of color."

While Paul Klee he was in Paris he could access the works of post-impressionism of Paul Cezane and Vincent van Gogh. "Let me be afraid," Klee said after seeing Van Gogh's paintings because it was a key influence on the use of Klee's color to express emotions and simplify or distort drawings.

But the artistic takeoff of Paul Klee came in 1914 when he visited Tunisia for a short space of time with August Macke and Louis Moilliet. There he was impressed by the quality of the light there and wrote: "... Color and I are one. I'm a painter. " Klee began to deepen the abstraction by adding color to his skills as a draftsman, and in many works he combined them successfully, as he did in a series he called "operatic paintings". One of the most literal examples of this new synthesis is the 'Don Giovanni Bavaro' (1919).

After returning home, Klee painted his first pure abstract, 'In the style of Kairouan' (1914), composed of colored rectangles and some circles. The colored rectangle became his basic building block, which some scholars associate with a musical note, which Klee combined with other blocks of colors to create a harmony analogous to a musical composition. His selection of a particular color palette emulated a musical key. Sometimes he used complementary pairs of colors, and sometimes dissonant colors, which again reflects his connection with musicality.

The beginning of the First World War affected him because his friends Macke and Marc died in battle. Releasing his anguish, he created several pen and ink lithographs on war themes, including 'Death for the Idea' (1915). In 1916 he participated in the war, but Paul Klee was saved from serving on the front and ended up painting camouflage on airplanes.

He continued painting throughout the war and in 1917 and art critics already hailed him as the best of the new German artists. His technique was very sophisticated, using watercolor on gauze and paper with a chalk background, which produced a rich texture of triangular, circular and crescent patterns.

In 1919, Klee applied for a teaching position at the Art Academy of Düsseldorf. This attempt failed, but was very successful in obtaining a three-year contract, albeit with a minimum annual income, with the dealer Hans Goltz, whose influential gallery gave him Paul Klee a great exhibition and some commercial success and where he also exhibited in 1920 a retrospective of more than 300 works with great success.

Klee taught at the Bauhaus from January 1921 to April 1931. He was a teacher in the bookbinding, stained glass and mural painting workshops, and had two studies. In 1922, Kandinsky He joined the staff and both of them resumed their friendship. That same year the first Bauhaus exhibition and festival was held, for which Klee created several of the advertising materials, and also the first series of Bauhaus books with works by Gropius, Paul Klee, Adolf Meyer, Oskar Schlemmer and Piet Mondrian.

Paul Klee was also a member of Die Blaue Vier (The Blue Four), with Kandinsky, Feininger and Jawlensky. The group was formed in 1923 and they gave lectures and exhibited together in the United States in 1925. That same year, Klee had his first exhibitions in Paris, and became a hit with the French surrealists. He then visited Egypt in 1928, although he was less impressed than Tunisia. In 1929, the first important monograph on the work of Klee, written by Will Grohmann, was published.

Paul Klee he was finally able to teach at the Düsseldorf Academy from 1931 to 1933, but was singled out by a Nazi newspaper for producing a "degenerate art". His house was registered by the Gestapo and he was dismissed from his job. His self-portrait 'Struck from the list' (1933) commemorates the event, and the Klee family emigrated to Switzerland at the end of 1933, leaving him teaching to exhibit in London and Paris, where he finally met Pablo Picasso, whom he admired. Despite his personal situation, Klee was at the peak of his creative output. His 'Ad parnassum' (1932) is considered his masterpiece and the best example of his pointillist style and it is also one of his greatest paintings. In 1933, his last year in Germany, he produced almost 500 works. That year he began to experience the symptoms of what was diagnosed later as scleroderma.

The progression of his deadly disease, which made swallowing very difficult, can also be followed through the art he created in his later years. His production in 1936 was only 25 images. At the end of the decade his health recovered a bit and he was even more encouraged by a visit from Kandinsky and Picasso. With simpler and larger designs, Klee was able to maintain his production in his last years, and in 1939 he made more than 1,200 works. His varied palettes of colors, some with bright colors and others sober, perhaps reflected his alternative feelings of optimism and pessimism.

One of his last paintings, 'Death and fire', presents a skull in the center with the German word death, 'Tod', which appears on the face. The last year of his life he painted 'Cementerio', an intriguing painting incorporating crosses, cypresses, and a coffin awaiting his turn. The body is missing, but the important thing is that if you rotate the picture 90 ° to the right you can clearly see a human figure, pale, with blue eyes and white shroud. Evidently, he himself.

Paul Klee died in Muralto (Switzerland), on June 29, 1940, at age 60 and without having obtained Swiss citizenship despite his birth in that country. His artistic work was considered revolutionary by the Swiss authorities, but they finally accepted his request six days after his death.

His legacy covers around 9,000 works of art. The words on his gravestone, placed there by his son Felix, say: "I can not be caught here and now, because my dwelling is as much among the dead as it is with the unborn. Something closer to the heart of creation than usual. But not close enough. " On July 4, the funeral was held in the chapel of the Burgerhospital of Bern, organized by authorities and friends. During the same, the String Quartet of Bern performed two adages of string quartets by Mozart, Klee's favorite composer. Years later, when the wife died, both were buried in the Schosshalden cemetery in Bern.


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