Paul Klee (1879-1940) sedulously kept a diary from 1898 to 1918. Not only did he meticulously catalogue his works in all mediums, but he also left a considerable amount of materials including letters, exhibition reviews, and many other writings including several theoretical books that allow us to understand his works more thoroughly. At the same time, when he said that in great works of art, there is always a final mystery that cannot be explored rationally, he seemed to imply that works of art cannot be completely explained in words alone. Klee's statement best illustrates his own artistic endeavors. He produced more than 9,100 works, which are so diverse in themes and techniques that a few words cannot summarize this immense talent of this artist. Mostly small in scale, Klee's works are often based on his personal experiences and particular events. But he sought, beyond personal level, to reflect his understanding of human beings, nature and the world around them through profound intelligenceand deep sensitivity and it is left us to reflect upon his meanings and context. For this reason, the renowned American critic John Canaday once commented that Klee is an artist who should be studied after having studied all other contemporary art. The time of Paul Klee's artistic activity, the first half of the twentieth century, can be defined as a period of intense search for new kinds of art. It was in this period when such pioneering artists of modern art as Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Vassily Kandinsky, Piet Mondrian, and Marcel Duchamp worked. Although these artists pursued quite different artistic directions, they shared a few common experiences that belonged to the times. Most of all, the great interest during this period was abstract art. Many artists abandoned representational art to pursue abstract art that emphasized free composition of lines, color and form, while other artists searched for the world of psychic experience and inner reality, or expressed modern life characterized by science, technology, machines and urban life. There were also artists, in the face of the atrocities of World War I and oppression under Nazi Germany in the 1930s, who expressed in their art, nihilism and social criticism. Klee knew and met with major contemporary artists of his time, and was invariably influenced by various art movements such as Cubism, Expressionism, Dada and Surrealism. He did not confine himself, however, to any one movement preferring instead to move freely among them, never losing his own sensitivity and creativity. While Klee despised illusionistic art, his works were not entirely abstract or figural. He had a natural talent for drawing and also became a great colorist. His wit, humor and childlike fantasy, the whimsical poetry, along with his apprehension toward modern technology, mockery of the frailty of human beings, made him one of the most original image makers of the twentieth century.
Paul Klee was one of the most intellectual modern painter who produced a vast range of works. With his mastery of lines and sophisticated colors, Klee realized an art world full of wit, humor, satire and philosophy. He was essentially a romanticist who endeavored to look at the world through innocent eyes, who experienced the remarkable development of science and technology in his day and age, and who also sensed the double faces of idealism and skepticism in this modern society. Klee was an accomplished artist with a strong sense of historical conscience, but he was primarily an observer rather than an actual participant. He endeavored to depict the growth and destruction, creation and changes that occurred during the turmoil of his lifetime. Nature and the human world provided Klee with the images of creation and generation, and the cycle of death, and he was able to create primal symbols and forms that were hitherto unachieved. Today, he is considered to be one of the most imaginative creators of images among the painters of the twentieth century.