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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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Still Life with Gladioli underlines the raw talent of artist Klee

Paul Klee painted in 1930s images that strongly differed from his previous works, he mostly left these images unsigned. He created a series of still life images one which was named still life by gladioli.

Klee used still life images to show sculpture, flowers, animals and people. He also painted still life images to depict diversity in how we interact with the environment.

Over the centuries, still life paintings have been used by artists for many reasons. It has been used to show the status of the owner, capture natural beauty and transient objects or express abstract qualities in physical elements.

For this image, Klee expresses his view of the world in how we interact. The image portrays a symbolic meaning with the round heads representing a person. It also brings an element of busy street life with many people. Klee demonstrates his skill in painting as he shows the beauty in living as a community.

The influence of this still life is clearly visible. Similar images were later developed by Picasso and Braque who were both famous painters. Klee suggests a true painting of nature that contradicts itself. It reminds that painting is a window to viewing life and an abstract sign system.

For still life images, Klee often admired art produced by children who create free models. He applied this in his own work where he offers unique simplicity. His trip to North Africa inspired him to employ intense colour to his images.

He challenged traditional painting boundaries by separating writing and visual art.

Klee explores a new expressive poetic language of signs and symbols. Black lines stand in for a person or object in most of his work. His work is mainly symbolic and hardly asks for specific reading.