Paul Klee
Paul Klee (ˈkleː; 18 December 1879 – 29 June 1940) was born in Münchenbuchsee, Switzerland, and is considered both a German and a Swiss painter
Painting is the practice of applying paint, pigment, color or other medium to a surface . The application of the medium is commonly applied to the base with a brush but other objects can be used. In art, the term painting describes both the act and the result of the action. However, painting is...

. His highly individual style was influenced by movements in art that included expressionism
Expressionism was a modernist movement, initially in poetry and painting, originating in Germany at the beginning of the 20th century. Its typical trait is to present the world solely from a subjective perspective, distorting it radically for emotional effect in order to evoke moods or ideas...

, cubism
Cubism was a 20th century avant-garde art movement, pioneered by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque, that revolutionized European painting and sculpture, and inspired related movements in music, literature and architecture...

, and surrealism
Surrealism is a cultural movement that began in the early 1920s, and is best known for the visual artworks and writings of the group members....

. He was, as well, a student of orientalism
Orientalism is a term used for the imitation or depiction of aspects of Eastern cultures in the West by writers, designers and artists, as well as having other meanings...

. Klee was a natural draftsman who experimented with and eventually mastered colour theory, and wrote extensively about it; his lectures Writings on Form and Design Theory (Schriften zur Form und Gestaltungslehre), published in English as the Paul Klee Notebooks
Paul Klee Notebooks
Paul Klee Notebooks is a two volume work by Paul Klee that collects his lectures at the Bauhaus schools in the 1920s Germany and his other main essays on modern art...

, are considered so important for modern art that they are compared to the importance that Leonardo da Vinci
Leonardo da Vinci
Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci was an Italian Renaissance polymath: painter, sculptor, architect, musician, scientist, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, geologist, cartographer, botanist and writer whose genius, perhaps more than that of any other figure, epitomized the Renaissance...

's A Treatise on Painting
A Treatise on Painting
A Treatise on Painting is a collection of Leonardo da Vinci's writings entered in his notebooks under the general heading "On Painting". The manuscripts were gathered together by Francesco Melzi sometime before 1542 and first printed in French and Italian as Trattato della pittura by Raffaelo du...

had for Renaissance
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...


Art should be like a holiday: something to give a man the opportunity to see things differently and to change his point of view.

From the film Der Bauhaus, produced by TV-Rechte in Germany, 1975.

My mirror probes down to the heart. I write words on the forehead and around the corners of the mouth. My human faces are truer than the real ones.

Diary entry (Munich, 1901), 136, The Diaries of Paul Klee, 1898-1918 [University of California Press, 1968, ISBN 0-520-00653-4] (p. 48)

The main thing now is not to paint precociously but to be, or at least become, an individual. The art of mastering life is the prerequisite for all further forms of expression, whether they are paintings, sculptures, tragedies, or musical compositions.

Diary entry (1902-06-03), 411

When looking at any significant work of art, remember that a more significant one probably has had to be sacrificed.

Diary entry (December 1904), 583

The beautiful, which is perhaps inseparable from art, is not after all tied to the subject, but to the pictorial representation. In this way and in no other does art overcome the ugly without avoiding it.

Diary entry (December 1905), 733

To emphasize only the beautiful seems to me to be like a mathematical system that only concerns itself with positive numbers.

Diary entry (March 1906), 759, The Diaries of Paul Klee, 1898-1918

He has found his style, when he cannot do otherwise, i.e., cannot do something else.

Diary entry (Munich, 1908), 825, The Diaries of Paul Klee, 1898-1918 (p. 227)

Nature can afford to be prodigal in everything, the artist must be frugal down to the last detail.Nature is garrulous to the point of confusion, let the artist be truly taciturn.

Diary entry (Munich, 1909), 857, The Diaries of Paul Klee, 1898-1918 (p. 236)

All the things an artist must be: poet, explorer of nature, philosopher!

Diary entry (Spring 1911), 895