Paul Klee (December 18, 1879 - June 29, 1940) was a Switzerland-born painter.
Klee, an inspiring artist to all, was born in Münchenbuchsee (near Bern) of Switzerland into a musical family - his father, Hans Klee, taught music at the Hofwil Teacher Seminar near Berne. In his early years, Paul wanted to be a musician, but decided on the visual arts in his teen years. He studied art in Munich with Heinrich Knirr and Franz von Stuck. After travelling to Italy and then back to Bern, he settled in Munich, where he met Wassily Kandinsky, Franz Marc and other avant-garde figures, and became associated with the Blaue Reiter. Here he met Bavarian pianist Lily Stumpf, whom he married; they had one son.
In 1914, he visited Tunisia and was impressed by the quality of the light there, writing "Color has taken possession of me; no longer do I have to chase after it, I know that it has hold of me forever ... Color and I are one. I am a painter."
Klee worked with many different types of media - oil paint, watercolor, ink and more. He often combined them into one work. He has been variously associated with expressionism, cubism and surrealism but his pictures are difficult to classify. They often have a fragile child-like quality to them, and are usually on a small scale. They frequently allude to poetry, music and dreams and sometimes include words or musical notation. The later works are distinguished by spidery hieroglyph-like symbols. His better known works include Southern (Tunisian) Gardens (1919), Ad Parnassum (1932) and Embrace (1939).
Following World War I, Klee taught at the Bauhaus, and from 1931 at the Düsseldorf Academy, before being denounced by the Nazi Party for producing "degenerate art".
Composer Gunther Schuller also immortalized seven works of Klee's in his Seven Studies on Themes of Paul Klee. The studies are based on a range of works, including Alter Klang [Antique Harmonies], Abstraktes Terzett [Abstract Trio], Little Blue Devil, Twittering Machine, Arab Village, Ein unheimlicher Moment [An Eerie Moment], and Pastorale.
In 1933, Paul Klee returned to Switzerland; in 1935 he was diagnosed with scleroderma. The progression of his disease can be followed through the art he created in his last years.
He died in Bern in 1940.
Today, a painting by Paul Klee can sell for as much as US$7.5 million.
A museum dedicated to Paul Klee and showing a large part of his Oeuvre is currently being built in Bern, Switzerland, to be opened in 2005. The architect was Renzo Piano.