Paul Klee, born on December 18, 1879, in Switzerland, grew up in music, and his talented parents encouraged his interest. He became an accomplished violinist at a young age but would later be drawn to painting and eventually commit to it. He created various types of paintings and drawings, and he rubbed shoulders with some distinguished artists, all the while cementing his place in art history.
Inspired by the movements of expressionism and cubism, Paul Klee had a different outlook on art and wanted to explore the different ways in which he could express himself in his work. Born on December 18, 1879, Klee was the son of a music teacher and singer and was exposed to music at an early age. The youngest of two, he tried his hand at the violin while in primary school, and with the encouragement of his parents, he soon became so good at the instrument that he was invited to prestigious events to perform for large crowds of people. He kept a good record of his creations and notes, which are still referred to today.
Klee studied humanities and moved on to the Academy of Fine Arts to pursue art as a field of study. He met his wife Lily Stumpf, a pianist, in 1899, and they wed in 1906. His travels exposed him to more landscapes, colors, and patterns, enabling him to expand his knowledge and strengthen his pencil skill. He studied various forms of art as well as the artists that came before him. He became affiliated with some prominent artists who were part of Der Blaue Reiter, a group of artists united against Neue Künstlervereinigung München. Among the members was the famous Russian painter Wassily Kandinsky, who was the founder of the group as well as Klee’s neighbor. He later joined the collective as a member of the editorial team.
He was drafted to serve in the military when World War I began, and within the following years, his work received praise from critics and art enthusiasts — and also sold well. He began teaching at the Staatliches Bauhaus, an art school in Germany, during the 1920s and shared his knowledge through his Pedagogical Sketchbook. He created just shy of 10,000 art pieces and is regarded as one of the most inspired and influential artists of his time.
As a young boy, Paul Klee takes up violin lessons and becomes exceptionally good at it.
Klee's first solo exhibition, of more than 50 works from the period 1907-1910, opens at the Kunstmuseum Bern (Museum of Fine Arts Bern).
Klee becomes a member of the editorial team for Der Blaue Reiter.
Klee loses his friends in the war but, after the war, is fortunate to be given a job as a clerk, where he spent his time working on his art and channeling his grief.
He begins writing reviews of art exhibits and concerts, teaching life-drawing classes, and providing illustrations for journals and books
Why We Love Paul Klee
His need to evolve
Paul Klee transitioned from a violinist to a painter and sketcher, later becoming a teacher as well as a member of notable artist unions. He welcomed change and the possibilities that it presented.
His trip to Tunisia inspired him immensely. He was captivated by the quality of light in Tunis, which encouraged him to try his hand at more abstract paintings.
His remarkable work ethic
Klee completed more than 9,000 pieces of work in his lifetime. Many of these art pieces are exhibited in his museum.
5 Surprising Facts
He founded an artists’ union
Klee came together with a group of young artists to form an association called Sema; they published portfolios and hosted several exhibitions.
His artistic inspirations
He was inspired by artists Robert Delaunay and Maurice de Vlaminck.
There's a museum named after him
Founded in 1998, in Bern, Switzerland, the Zentrum Paul Klee features a large number of Klee’s works.
He was considered a degenerate
During the Nazi regime, all abstract pieces of art, along with their creators, were not considered ‘pure,’ and this led to their inclusion in degenerate art exhibitions — a number of Klee’s artworks were exhibited.
He had his own Google Doodle
To celebrate his 139th birthday in 2018, Google created one of their popular Google Doodles, which is a temporary altercation of the company’s logo to commemorate key events and public figures.
Paul Klee FAQs
Did Paul Klee have any children?
Klee and his wife Lily Stumpf had their son, Felix, in 1907.
What is Paul Klee’s most expensive painting ever sold?
Klee’s painting titled “Tanzerin” was created in the 1930s depicting a dancer drawn with a single line. It was sold in 2011 for over $6,700,000 in London.
Did Paul Klee have any pets?
It’s believed that Klee was a lover of cats, and as a result, he and his wife owned about six cats that served not only as furry companions but also as sources of inspiration for the painter.
Paul Klee’s birthday dates