Legend of the Nile (1937) by Paul Klee

Legend of the Nile - Paul Klee - 1937

Artwork Information

TitleLegend of the Nile
ArtistPaul Klee
MediumPastel on cotton cloth mounted on burlap
Dimensions27 1/8 x 24 in. (69 x 61 cm)
Art MovementExpressionism
Current LocationKunstmuseum Bern, Bern, Switzerland
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About Legend of the Nile

Paul Klee was a Swiss-born painter known for his unique and inspired use of colour and combination of different styles. Influenced by expressionism, cubism and surrealism, he was able to perfectly fuse traditional elements into something recognizably modern. His written collections of lectures, Writings on Form and Design Theory, are considered by some as important to modern art as Leonardo da Vinci’s works were to the Renaissance.

One of his well-known works is Legend of the Nile (1937) – a pastel painting on cotton cloth mounted on paper. It features two tall figures standing in an abstract landscape of colors that resembles Egypt; Klee used flat colors like blue and yellow, but also inserted small details such as dark contours to give it a more tactile feel. The overall effect is one of peaceful contemplation – a scene upon which one can easily get lost in thought.

This painting demonstrates Paul Klee’s distinctive style; it is masterful combination of various influences from Expressionism, Cubism and Surrealism all converging into a beautiful piece at once familiar yet new. Another impressive work is Insula Dulcamara (1938), a monochrome watercolor painting set in an imaginary landscape featuring rolling hills in its backdrop with jagged lines affirming its surrealist approach. These two works are examples illustrating the uniqueness and inventiveness with which Paul Klee wove distinct styles into something strikingly original even until today.

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