Paul Klee, His Life and Work in Documents: Selected from Posthumous Writings and Unpublished Letters

By Felix Klee; Richard Winston et al. | Go to book overview

3. My Own Recollections of My Parents' Household

At this point, I shall offer my own recollections of my parents' household. I cannot hope to set down anything like a full account of my experiences with my father, for until I was twenty-one I was with him almost all the time. However, I shall try to render the quintessence of what life with this truly great man was like.

My earliest memory of childhood goes back to prewar 1914 in Munich. We lived in the part of the city known as Schwabing. We had a small, dark, three-room apartment in the rear building of Ainmillerstrasse 33. My mother was active as a concert pianist and earned a living for the family by giving lessons. As a teacher she was very popular with her pupils, and her daily schedule very often included from eight to ten hours of lessons, some of which she gave at home, some away from home. Her place of work was the largest room in the apartment, in which stood a Blüthner concert grand. Very little light came through the single window of this room; it was necessary to have the sputtering gaslight on and kerosene lamps going even by day. In order to keep people from knocking their heads against the chandelier, my father had draped it with a red silk scarf as a warning. The two kerosene lamps looked like nuns and rocked in time to the music during my mother's vigorous playing. In the course of the First World War these lamps were replaced by carbide lamps, which gave a great deal of light but smelled horrible and threatened to explode at the most awkward moments.

In the second room, the living room, stood an enormous amount of heavy furniture through which you had to navigate skillfully in order to reach the small upright piano. This had a silencing practice pedal so that my mother could play on it far into the night without having the neighbors knock indignantly on the ceiling. This room, too, was in constant darkness. The gas lamp flickered nervously, and I can still remember my father's flying into a rage at it and addressing it: "You wait, you slut, I'll throw you out the window one of these days." As a matter of fact, my father was dependent upon this artificial illumination, for he often went on with his drawing at night.

The third room was the common bedroom. There were two beds for the three of us. Then there was a long, unlit hallway, which was also crammed full of furniture, a bathroom with a coal stove, a small maid's room where visitors were usually put up, and on the north side a large kitchen with a wrought-iron balcony. For years this kitchen was necessarily my father's chief working room. He took charge of the running of the household and prepared all our meals. It was sheer pleasure to watch my father cooking. He managed the work very easily, and did

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Paul Klee, His Life and Work in Documents: Selected from Posthumous Writings and Unpublished Letters
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • List of Illustrations vii
  • Foreword ix
  • PART ONE: The Life 1
  • 1. Klee's Own Autobiographical Jottings: 1879-1918 3
  • 2. Family Background. Childhood. Parents 17
  • 3. My Own Recollections of My Parents' Household 32
  • 4. Relations with Kandinski and Franz Marc 35
  • 5. More Household Memories 49
  • 6. the Bauhaus 53
  • 7. Italy 58
  • 8. Later Years 61
  • 9. the Düsseldorf Academy of Art 66
  • 10. Switzerland 71
  • 11. Struggle for Swiss Citizenship 76
  • 12. Death 78
  • PART TWO: Themes in Klee's Creative Work 91
  • 13. Theater and Music 93
  • 14. Animals 103
  • 15. Humor and Philosophy 108
  • 16. Landscape 118
  • 17. Physiognomy 137
  • 18. Architecture 138
  • 19. War and Catastrophe 141
  • PART THREE: Teaching at the Bauhaus 149
  • Appendix I: Styles and Categories 193
  • Appendix II: The Catalogue of Works 201
  • Appendix III: Location of the Works 204
  • Index 207
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