Paul Klee was born in 1879 near Bern, Switzerland and studied art at the Munich Academy in 1900. He settled in Munich in 1906, then a center for avant-garde art activity, where he met Wassily Kandinsky and Franz Marc. He became associated with the Blaue Reiter, a group of artists in Munich who shared a belief in the spiritual and transcendent, that an ideal art 'represented' an inner state of mind rather than material reality.
Klee is a difficult artist to categorize, for he incorporated into his generally small-scale paintings, drawings and watercolors, allusions to dreams, music and poetry with a complex language of symbols and signs of arrows, letters, words, commas, and musical signs in a form of writing. He especially valued the art of children, for he felt they revealed the mysteries of the creative process, relying on signs for things in the natural world. It was this aspect of his work that was so admired by the Surrealists in the 1920's and 1930's.
Rather than describing an object, person or place in traditional pictorial forms, Klee gave us a personal sign system in works that are abstract and figurative at the same time.
He taught at the Bauhaus following World War I, and then at The Dusseldorf Academy in 1931 until he was dismissed by the Nazis for his 'degenerate art.' He returned to Bern, Switzerland, where he continued to work until his death in 1940.