Born of Swiss and German heritage, Paul Klee began his painting career in the early 1900s. He was well known for his abstract painting styles, which embodied the surrealism, cubism, and expressionism styles.
Paul Klee grew up in Switzerland with his father, a German music teacher, and his mother, a Swiss singer. Although his parents did not want him to pursue a career in music, they permitted him to attend the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich in 1898, where he began his visual art career. In 1906, Klee married Bavarian singer Lily Stumpf, and they lived in Germany for several decades. After World War I, Klee worked under contract with Hans Goltz and then taught art at the Academy of Art in Dusseldorf. Klee painted and taught in Germany until 1933, when the Nazi Party declared his artwork inappropriate. Upon that, the family fled back to Switzerland and remained there until his death in 1940.
Between 1903 and 1905, Klee did a series of etchings titled Inventionen, which were created during his time living in Bern. These were presented at the 1906 International Art Exhibition of the Association of Graphic Arts in Munich. It was his first exhibition as a professional painter. Klee transitioned into abstract painting styles with his piece Blumenmythos, painted in 1918, which uses birds to represent the planes crashing during his time in Gersthofen. Some of his most inspirational work comes from his time in Dusseldorf. His piece Die Zwitscher-Maschine, painted in 1922 with watercolor and ink, depicts a sense of ambiguity and helplessness. The painting was taken down by Hitler’s government and sold to an art dealer in Berlin. It was later sold to the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Klee’s later work, particularly his 1932 masterpiece Ad Parnassum, demonstrates his artistic precision, while Death and Fire, painted in the last months of his life, demonstrates his change in style, using thick lines surrounding the monochromatic hues. By the time of his death, he had produced over nine thousand works of art.
- Klee was known to have produced over ten thousand paintings, etchings, and sketches.
- In 1939, he created over 1,200 pieces of art.
- The lighting in Tunisia inspired him to use color in his art.