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Paul Klee

German, born Switzerland

1879, Münchenbuchsee, Switzerland
1940, Muralto, Switzerland

Biography

Among the most versatile and wide-ranging of modern artists, Paul Klee experimented in nearly every major avant-garde style, yet maintained his distinctive artistic personality throughout.

A German citizen by birth, Klee moved to Munich in 1906 to pursue his studies. His mature paintings, drawings, and prints push the boundary between abstraction and figuration. Often these works are populated by whimsical figures who are nonetheless the venue for sophisticated investigations into line, color, and shape.

Klee taught for many years at the Bauhaus, the famed academy in Weimar dedicated to the fine and applied arts. When the Nazi party came to power in 1933, Klee fled to Switzerland; he was later denounced as a "degenerate artist." He remained in Switzerland, in progressively failing health, until his death.

Audio Stories

On the artist’s playful rhythms

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transcripts

SFX: Music begins and fades underneath. Select something playful/fanciful from Bach, Mozart, Ravel, Franck, Stravinsky, Shoenberg or Hindemith, Klee’s favorites. 

 

NARRATOR:  

Childlike. Fanciful. Playful. These are a few of the words people use to talk about the art of Paul Klee. Look around, and you’ll see that they fit. Funny faces, wobbly villages, imaginary animals, dreamy flowers. Strange shapes that don’t easily resolve into anything recognizable. Klee loved the art of children, and he pushed himself to paint and draw like they do, unhindered by the advanced knowledge of art that he certainly had. 

 

SFX: Music comes up again. 

 

NARRATOR:  

Klee was also a musician. He played the violin… 

 

SFX: Solo violin comes up – something like Bach 

 

NARRATOR: 

…and his wife played the piano.  

 

SFX: Piano joins the violin – music shifts to something like Ravel 

 

NARRATOR: Their friends came by and joined.  

 

SFX: Violin, piano and other instruments – music shifts to atonal modern like Schoenberg 

 

NARRATOR: Some might say he used colors and shapes like musical notes. And like music, his art can feel raw, intuitive. Able to move you to a different realm.  

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