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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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Architecture continues Klee's love affair with abstract art

Architecture is a work painted by Paul Klee in 1923 as part of his Magic Squares series, a collection of paintings based around patterns and simple shapes and topography.

The painting consists of a pattern of highly ordered, logically laid out sequence of squares of different, clearly distinguishable colours. The work is widely viewed as a reflection on the nature of rhythm, repetition and similarity.

In 1923 Klee was teaching at the Bauhaus, a highly influential art school in Germany, and it was also at this time that the 'Blue Four', a group of revolutionary modern artists including Klee, Kandinsky, Feininger and von Jawlensky was founded.

Klee's work in this period was in a highly surrealist and expressionist, and in Architecture Klee is demonstrating concepts through the nature of his painting, rather than clearly painting anything directly recognisable.

Klee had a family link to music, his father being a violin teacher. There is perhaps an underlying reference to this in Architecture, even if not as explicit as in some of Klee's later paintings.

In 1923 the Austrian composer Arnold Schoenberg had recently developed a new, revolutionary system of twelve tones in music. For many Architecture is a reflection on Schoenburg's quantified, logical approach to music as a geometric and almost mathematical entity.

The precise, exact nature and clear definition of Klee's squares is highly symbolic of the precise, logically ordered approach of Schoenberg's music. The work of both men was viewed as highly radical at the time and totally different to previous interpretations and traditions of their respective fields and study.

Architecture can also be viewed as a reflection of Klee's romantic philosophical approach to life. Klee believed that the universe we see around us is a manifestation and reflection of something else, a supreme being or similar.

In many ways, the squares in Architecture could be a symbol of the universe as a whole, building blocks which appear intrinsically valuable and important, but are instead simple patterns crafted by someone else.