Paul Klee(1879-1940) was born in Switzerland. His mother and father were both music teachers. He started very early to practice the violin and performed with Bern symphony orchestra when he was 10 years old. Everybody expected him to be a musician, but suddenly he changed his mind and applied for the Academy of Fine Art in Munich. There he met Kandinsky and they become friends the rest of their lives.
He married Bavarian pianist Lily Stumpf in 1906 and they had a son, Felix.
Klee was a member of Der Blaue Reiter from 1911, and participated in their exhibitions from 1912.This association opened Klee to modern colour theories. The same year he went to Paris and got to know Cubism and pure painting by Robert Delaunay, as he later visited. Klee started to experiment with colour.
After a trip to Tunisia in 1914 he had his artistic breakthrough, he saw this light and said:” me and the colours are one. I am a painter”. He compared painting to composing music and he made his first abstract painting.
After he had seen an exhibition of Matisse’s paintings and his simple way to make pictures, he started to collect the drawings from his little son Felix and made a lot of childish and humorous pictures. He also did several unconscious drawings as:” taking a line for a walk”.
During the war he was in the army, but behind the front. He lost two friends which affected him a lot.
He was a teacher at Bauhaus for many years and was a member of “Die Blaue Vier” with Kandinsky, Lyonel Feindinger and Alexej von Jawlensky. They lectured and exhibited together in the USA in 1925, and Klee also had his first exhibition in Paris the same year.
He was also a teacher at Dusseldorf Academy from 1931 to 1933 when he was fired by the Nazi.
The Klee family moved back to Switzerland in 1933 and he died 1940 in Bern.
He made over 9000 works of art. Many contemporary composers have made music to his paintings.
He was a natural draftsman and through his long experimentation he developed masterpieces of colour and tonality.
“Klees notebook” about art theory has been very important to modern art.