Swiss-born German artist Paul Klee created the painting Death and Fire a few months before his death in 1940. The expressionist work is heavily influenced by Klee’s interest in hieroglyphics, which suggests that abstraction and representation have been mutually accommodating means of expression since ancient times. The painting is located at the Zentrum Paul Klee in Bern, Switzerland.
Klee began experiencing symptoms of scleroderma around five years prior to his death. As he neared the end of his life, Klee painted his own death mask without compassion. Death and Fire draws Klee’s painting career to a dark close and represents the suffering he experienced due to his illness.
The moody masterpiece combines smudge and clarity to create a deep, mysterious feeling. Klee’s highly individual style was influenced by movements in art that included expressionism, cubism, and surrealism. Death and Fire showcases this unique style through its use of bold colors, sharp lines, and abstract forms.