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Title: Paul Klee (1879-1940) as a tragic figure: What the artist learned from his illness
Contributor(s): Albury, W Randall  (author); Weisz, George M  (author)
Publication Date: 2017
DOI: 10.1177/0967772015575886
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Abstract: Paul Klee was a major contributor to the development of modern European art. An ethnic German (although born in Switzerland) and a German citizen, he was persecuted by the Nazi government on political rather than racial grounds because of his allegedly "degenerate" artistic style. Dismissed from his teaching position, he emigrated to Switzerland in 1933; shortly afterward he became ill with systemic sclerosis and struggled with this condition for the remaining years of his life. Many publications have examined the effect of social rejection and illness on his art, but the present study considers the effect of these adversities on Klee's attitude toward his fellow humans. After being an extreme misanthrope in his early adult years, he developed an attitude of cosmic indifference toward humanity during the First World War, which he then maintained until the end of 1939. Although his rejection by Germany had been a significant emotional blow, it was the physical suffering caused by his illness that led him, at the end of his life, to show compassion toward the suffering of other individuals. In this he was like tragic figures such as King Lear who learned from their great misfortunes to value humanity.
Publication Type: Journal Article
Source of Publication: Journal of Medical Biography, 25(1), p. 42-52
Publisher: Sage Publications Ltd
Place of Publication: United Kingdom
ISSN: 1758-1087
Field of Research (FOR): 210307 European History (excl. British, Classical Greek and Roman)
Socio-Economic Outcome Codes: 970121 Expanding Knowledge in History and Archaeology
Peer Reviewed: Yes
HERDC Category Description: C1 Refereed Article in a Scholarly Journal
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