18 December 1879 – 29 June 1940
Paul Klee (You Tube Link) was born in Münchenbuchsee, Switzerland, and is considered both a German and a Swiss painter. 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 highly individual style was influenced by movements in art that included expressionism, cubism, and surrealism. Klee was a natural draftsman who experimented with and eventually mastered colour theory, and wrote extensively about it; his lectures Writings on Form and Design Theory (Schriften zur Form und Gestaltungslehre), published in English as the Paul Klee Notebooks, are considered so important for modern art that they are compared to the importance that Leonardo da Vinci's A Treatise on Painting had for Renaissance.
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. With his parents' reluctant permission, in 1898 he began studying art at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich. He excelled at drawing but seemed to lack any natural colour sense. He later recalled, "During the third winter I even realised that I probably would never learn to paint
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. Klee married Bavarian pianist Lily Stumpf in 1906 and they had a son named Felix Paul in the following year. They lived in a suburb of Munich, and while she gave piano lessons and occasional performances, he kept house and tended to his art work.
In January 1911 Alfred Kubin met Klee in Munich encouraging him to illustrate Voltaires Candide. Around this time, Klee's graphical work started to increase and his early inclination towards the absurd and the sarcastic was well received by Kubin. In autumn he made an acquaintance with August Macke and Wassily Kandinsky, and in winter he joined the editorial team of the almanac Der Blaue Reiter, founded by Franz Marc and Kandinsky. Klee progressed in a few months of his assistance to one of the most important and independent members of the Blaue Reiter.
The first Blaue Reiter exhibition took place from 18 December 1911 to 1 January 1912 in the Moderne Galerie Heinrich Thannhauser in Munich. Klee did not attend it, but in the second exhibition, 12 February to 18 March 1912 in the Galerie Goltz, 17 of his graphical works were showed.
After returning home, Klee painted his first pure abstract, In the Style of Kairouan (1914), composed of coloured rectangles and a few circles. The coloured rectangle became his basic building block, what some scholars associate with a musical note
A few weeks later, World War I began, but with behind the scenes manoeuvrings by his father, Klee was spared serving at the front and ended up painting camouflage on airplanes and working as a clerk.
He continued to paint during the entire war and managed to exhibit in several shows. By 1917, Klee’s work was selling well and art critics acclaimed him as the best of the new German artists.
Back in Germany in 1937, seventeen of Klee’s pictures were included in an exhibition of "Degenerate art" and 102 of his works in public collections were seized by the Nazis.
Klee suffered from a wasting disease, scleroderma, toward the end of his life, enduring pain that seems to be reflected in his last works of art. One of his last paintings, "Death and Fire", features a skull in the centre with the German word for death, "Tod", appearing in the face. He died in Muralto, Locarno, Switzerland, on 29 June 1940