Thursday, December 9, 2010
A Rogue Named Klee (1879-1940)
The Rogue Speaks:
Paul Klee, who was born in Switzerland in 1879, didn't start out to become a rogue, even though he began drawing at an early age. When he was seven, he began playing the violin, and when he was eight, his grandmother gave him some sidewalk chalk. I am amazed that sidewalk chalk had even been invented back then!! In any case, Klee was equally talented in both music and art. His parents wanted him to become a musician, but when he became a teen, he rebelled! Now that sounds familiar, doesn't it? He wasn't too keen on the "modern" music of his day, and he wanted to be free to CREATE and explore new artistic styles.
Klee began keeping a diary when he was 18, so we have a lot of insight into his life and the way he perceived it. Like a lot of rebellious young people, he drew in his school-books, daydreamed, and barely passed his final exams. "After all," he wrote,"it's rather difficult to achieve the exact minimum, and it involves risks."
Well, wouldn't you know it! Like so many other artists I have written about lately, his youthful adventure revolved around pubs, and sex! He had an illegitimate son in 1900, but the boy died shortly after he was born.
Klee married Lily Stumpf, a pianist, in 1906. Lily gave piano lessons, and an occasional concert while Klee stayed home to care for their little son, and work on his drawings. As we all know, multi-tasking with a child around is not easy, and it was no different for Klee.
Klee was afraid of color in his early years. He had done mostly drawing and etching, and found using color to be somewhat intimidating. This all changed in 1914 when he was visiting Tunisia. The quality of light there seemed to transform him and he wrote, "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."
His new-found love of color prompted him to begin painting in the pure abstract style, and his work took on a certain harmony much like a musical composition. I don't know if Klee had music playing while he created his paintings, but I certainly love to have music in the background to inspire me while I work! If only I could be as creative and expressive as Klee...
When WWI began, Klee joined the German army, but instead of fighting at the front, after some finagling by his father, he served by working as a clerk, and painting camouflage on airplanes. He still continued to exhibit his work, and by 1917, he had become one of the best new German artists.
In 1933, Paul became ill with a fatal disease, scleroderma. He still continued to work, although very slowly. In 1936, he only produced 25 paintings. Paul Klee died a painful death in Switzerland on June 29, 1940.
For me, Klee's legacy is his manipulation of color. He became a wonderful teacher, and taught the mixing of color, and his color theory to his students at the Bauhaus.
"Art does not reproduce the visible; rathert it makes visible." -Paul Klee
I hope you have enjoyed my letter "K" for Jenny Matlock's Alphabe-Thursday. I am off now, to Jenny's blog to read ALL of this week's offerings. I hope you will do the same!!