The Blue Rider





Paul Klee (1879 – 1940), the son of a German father and a Swiss mother — both parents were musicians — grew up in Berne and came to Munich in 1898 to study art. In 1900, he briefly attended Franz von Stuck’s class at the Academy. After traveling to Italy and France and spending several years back in Berne, he finally settled in Munich in 1906, where he initially limited himself to graphic art in various techniques; the intellectual sensibility of his early work adumbrates the distinctive qualities of his later oeuvre. In the fall of 1911, he was introduced to Kandinsky, his neighbor in Schwabing, who immediately recognized his talent. Klee then participated in the second exhibition of the Blue Rider in the spring of 1912. That same year, he went to Paris to visit Robert Delaunay, whose most recent Window paintings impressed him profoundly with their colorful abstraction. The breakthrough experience that led him to work in color, however, came with the trip to Tunis Klee undertook with Macke and Moilliet in April 1914.

After World War I, Klee — like Kandinsky — taught at the Bauhaus, first in Weimar, later in Dessau. During his Bauhaus years, he mastered what he described as the pursuit of his art: to reveal the mysterious intermediate realm between real appearances and the essence of things. With subtle pictorial architectures blending organic and inorganic elements, with rhythmic structures into which he integrated emblematic signs, he created new visual worlds. After a brief tenure as a professor at the Düsseldorf Academy, Klee was ousted by the Nazis and banned from teaching in 1933. He left Germany and returned to Switzerland. As his life was increasingly overshadowed by illness, he produced a considerable late oeuvre in which angels, often shown in mere sketches consisting of no more than a few lines, became a central theme.