Paul Klee Learn about PAUL KLEE (1879-1940) artist,their past and upcoming works offered at auction at Christie's

The work of the Swiss master of Modernism Paul Klee — who once famously described drawing as ‘taking a line for a walk’ — forms one of the most important and beautiful oeuvres in the 20th century. A defining voice of 1920s Bauhaus, he began his career in the dying days of the German Art Nouveau, Jugendstil, before becoming an important proponent of the Expressionist ‘Blue Rider’ movement of the 1910s. By the 1920s he had forged a unique aesthetic of abstraction that, as he once said, ‘does not reproduce the visible; rather it makes visible’. ‘Today,’ he wrote, ‘we reveal the reality that is behind visible things… the visible world is merely an isolated case in relation to the universe.’ Klee’s approach to art may have involved a cerebral, theoretical and spiritual questioning of objective reality, but it also left an enduring legacy of artistic lyricism and often-humorous whimsicality.

As a child in Berne, Klee had been a musical prodigy, but gave up the violin to study art in Munich in 1898. There he became influenced by the Jugendstil’s ideas of higher spiritual realities beyond the visible world that he would develop into his own complex artistic theories. In 1912, exhibiting with Kandinsky’s Blue Rider movement, the majority of his works were in black and white, but in 1914 there was a dramatic change to his palette. A trip through Tunisia, combined with earlier exposures to Cubism and Orphism, produced works like The Niesen (1915), announcing the beginning of Klee’s lifelong love affair with colour.

By 1920 Klee was teaching at the Bauhaus, and producing a vast range of prints and paintings. Some, such as Static-Dynamic Gradation (1923), were theoretical examinations of pure colour-field abstraction; others, like his iconic Twittering Machine (1922), saw Klee take a draughtsman’s line for a surrealistic biomorphic walk.

Klee remained fascinated with the art of children and the insane, believing that it should be ‘taken very seriously, more seriously than all the public galleries’. Towards the end of his life, forced to flee Germany by the rise of Nazism, his own work would become vilified by Hitler’s regime as ‘degenerate’.

Upcoming lots by this artist

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