1879 - 1940
Musician, writer, or visual artist? For a long time, the future Bauhaus master Paul Klee was unable to decide what he wanted to be: he was very talented and successful as a violinist and played in various orchestras and chamber music ensembles, but soon realized that he would not create anything new in the field of music. He experienced a revelation with respect to colors on a trip to Tunisia in 1914. “Colors have a hold on me. They have gotten a hold on me once and for all. I am a painter,” Paul Klee wrote in his diary while still on the trip.
„Um mich aus meinen Trümmern herauszuarbeiten, musste ich fliegen.“
When the artist, born in 1879 near Bern in Switzerland, was invited to the Bauhaus in 1920, he had already made a name for himself as a painter and graphic artist. In his lectures on “artistic design theory” which he gave at the Bauhaus, the master attempted to guide his students towards independent “visual thinking” and enable them to properly grasp colors, shapes and lines in pictorial space. But over time, the balancing act between his own intensive artistic creation and his equally intensive teaching work became too much for him. When conflicts regarding the Bauhaus began to escalate in the late 1920s, he left his teaching position and went to the art academy in Düsseldorf.
Although Klee decided on painting, he remained faithful to music throughout his life. The intensity of his involvement with music is evident in part from the numerous paintings he produced dealing with the subject of “music”. He never stopped producing music himself either. In Dessau, Klee befriended Franz von Hoesslin, the orchestra director of the Friedrich Theater, today the Anhaltische Theater, and regularly invited orchestra members to his house to play with him – surrounded by vibrant colorful compositions which decorated the walls of his house in the Dessau Master’s Houses estate. The degree to which colors also “had a hold on” him when designing the interior rooms can be seen today by visitors to the Masters’ Houses. The original color scheme has been restored in detail.