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Published on September 26th, 2017 | by Magda Michalska

Paul Klee’s Autumn Atmosphere

Hello autumn! I really like this season, especially for its colour palette: reddish and yellowish leaves, beige rainbow coats, green wellies, orange pumpkins… The colours of fall are warm and they create a unique atmosphere of coziness. Can you feel it in Paul Klee’s autumn paintings?

Familiar autumn views

Paul Klee, Mountain Village (Autumnal), 1934, Galerie Rosengart, Lucerne, Switzerland, autumn klee

Paul Klee, Mountain Village (Autumnal), 1934, Galerie Rosengart, Lucerne, Switzerland

Here Klee painted a familiar landscape as he was born in Münchenbuchsee, in Switzerland. Although it is very abstract, we can still distinguish the shapes of small country houses, lost somewhere in the Swiss mountains. Are they so brightly coloured by the setting autumn sun, or is it more artist’s internal feeling of autumn projected on their walls?

Autumn variety

Paul Klee, Autumn Flower, 1922, The Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, autumn klee

Paul Klee, Autumn Flower, 1922, The Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, CT, US

Klee’s highly original style had its roots in Expressionism, Cubism and early Surrealism. Often his works seem simplistic, childlike, naive. Sometimes they lean towards geometry, sometimes towards ‘disegno’, drawing. They vary in style, but also in technique, as Klee used various media, including watercolours, ink, oils, pastels, often combining them together.

Autumn colours

 Paul Klee,Herbstblumen Stilleben (Still life with autumn flowers) , 1925, private collection, autumn klee

Paul Klee, Herbstblumen Stilleben (Still life with autumn flowers) , 1925, private collection

Klee, similarly to Expressionists, tried to express his own mood in colours. This is why his paintings are so varied chromatically, ranging from nearly monochromatic to highly polychromatic.

Paul Klee, The messenger of autumn, 1922, Yale University Art Gallery (Yale University), New Haven, CT, US, Klee's Autumn

Paul Klee, The messenger of autumn, 1922, Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, CT, US

Autumn sounds

Paul Klee, Small Village in the Autumn Sun, 1925, LACMA, Los Angeles, California, Klee's Autumn

Paul Klee, Small Village in the Autumn Sun, 1925, LACMA, Los Angeles, California

Klee’s father was a musician and Paul himself was trained to play music, too. His interests in sound and harmonies are very evident in his paintings (can you ‘hear’ the rain in this small village?). Poet Rainer Maria Rilke wrote about Klee in 1921, “Even if you hadn’t told me he plays the violin, I would have guessed that on many occasions his drawings were transcriptions of music.”

Autumn inspirations

Paul Klee, Diana in the Autumn Wind, 1921, private collection, Klee's Autumn

Paul Klee, Diana in the Autumn Wind, 1921, private collection

Not only was Klee inspired by music, but music got inspired by Klee too!
By the end of 1960s a group of Cleveland-based musicians created a series of songs called  ‘electronic paintings’. The jazz composer Chuck Mangione and local producer-arranger Roger Karshner arranged the album Performing Musical Interpretations of the Paintings of Paul Klee, with a glossy leaflet including lyrics and reproductions of various Klee pictures, but it was not a hit. Shortly afterwards, Mangione’s brother Gap recorded a track Diana In The Autumn Wind (titled like the drawing above!), an instrumental jazz-pop LP, which you can listen to here:



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About the Author

Magda, an art historian-to-be, she writes about art because she cannot make it herself. She loves committed and political artists like Ai Wei Wei or the Futurists; like Joseph Beuys she believes that art can change us and we can change the world.



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