“These works are considered so important for understanding modern art that they are compared to the importance that Leonardo’s A Treatise on Painting had for Renaissance,”
Paul Klee was born on December 18, 1879, in Münchenbuchsee, Switzerland, into a family of musicians. His childhood love of music was always to remain profoundly important in his life and work. From 1898 to 1901 Klee studied in Munich, first with Heinrich Knirr, then at the Kunstakademie under Franz von Stuck. Upon completing his schooling, he traveled to Italy. It was the first in a series of trips abroad that nourished his visual sensibilities. He settled in Bern in 1902. A series of his satirical etchings was exhibited at the Munich Secession in 1906. That same year Klee married Lily Stumpf, a pianist, and moved to Munich. There he gained exposure to Modern art. Klee’s work was shown at the Kunstmuseum Bern in 1910 and at Moderne Galerie, Munich, in 1911.
Klee met Alexej Jawlensky, Vasily Kandinsky, August Macke, Franz Marc, and other avant-garde figures in 1911; he participated in important shows of advanced art, including the second Blaue Reiter (Blue Rider) exhibition at Galerie Hans Goltz, Munich, in 1912, and the Erste deutsche Herbstsalon at the Der Sturm Gallery, Berlin, in 1913. In 1912 he visited Paris for the second time, where he saw the work of Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso, and met Robert Delaunay. Klee helped found the Neue Münchner Secession in 1914. Color became central to his art only after a revelatory trip to Tunisia in 1914.
In 1919, Klee applied for a teaching post at the Academy of Art in Stuttgart. This attempt failed but he had a major success in securing a three-year contract (with a minimum annual income) with dealer Hans Goltz, whose influential gallery gave Klee major exposure, and some commercial success. A retrospective of over 300 works in 1920 was also notable.
In his mature carreer Klee taught at the Bauhaus from January 1921 to April 1931. He was a „Form“ master in the bookbinding, stained glass, and mural painting workshops and was provided with two studios. In 1922, Kandinsky joined the staff and resumed his friendship with Klee. Later that year the first Bauhaus exhibition and festival was held, for which Klee created several of the advertising materials. Klee welcomed that there were many conflicting theories and opinions within the Bauhaus: „I also approve of these forces competing one with the other if the result is achievement.“20