Artist Paul Klee could surely have been dubbed the hardest-working man in color. Not only did the iconic artist produce over 9,000 known artworks during his lifetime, but his notes, sketches and lectures on color theory which he used for teaching run to nearly 4,000 pages. Now this whole, fascinating resource, is available to view online, providing an insight not only into his working methods and ideas about color, but also just how productive he was.
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“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,” says Monoskop. Their description also quotes critic Herbert Read, who described the books as “the most complete presentation of the principles of design ever made by a modern artist – it constitutes the Principia Aesthetica of a new era of art, in which Klee occupies a position comparable to Newton’s in the realm of physics.”
Klee is inextricably linked with color, with his paintings often seeming like a color lecture in their own right, combining a startling variety of media with bold, poly chromatic compositions. After returning from a trip to Tunisia in 1914 he famously stated, “Color and I are one. I am a painter.”
More recently, the Zentrum Paul Klee made available online almost all 3,900 pages of Klee’s personal notebooks, which he used as the source for his Bauhaus teaching between 1921 and 1931. If you can’t read German, his extensively detailed textual theorizing on the mechanics of art (especially the use of color, with which he struggled before returning from a 1914 trip to Tunisia declaring, “Color and I are one. I am a painter”) may not immediately resonate with you.
But his copious illustrations of all these observations and principles, in their vividness, clarity, and reflection of a truly active mind, can still captivate anybody — just as his paintings do.
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