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Color Theory Elevated and the Magician of the Bauhaus

There’s primary colors, secondary colors, and tertiary colors. How they mix, the effects that these mixtures create and the study of “color theory” can be traced back to the 15th century. Color theory is considered one of the most basic and important building blocks of artistic practices.

In 1920, while teaching at the Bauhaus, Paul Klee elevated the conversation and study of color theory, arguably creating a whole new appreciation of color that blossomed into art that was ever more abstract. He was, in a word, obsessed with color.

Some of his paintings simply consist of varied color blocks. If you look closely though, you can see technical experimentation taking place, this is especially obvious in Ancient Harmony, pictured below.

Ancient Harmony painted by Paul Klee

While all his paintings display a masterful understanding of color, some of them also explore images and symbols that seem ancient and mythical. One of my favorite paintings is On the Edge. While abstract art does not usually capture my attention, this particular piece draws you in and holds your gaze.

On the Edge by Paul Klee

His other paintings like Mask of Fear, depicting small inscrutable faces, just make me laugh. They are so playful and full of childlike wonder it is hard not to smile.

Mask of Fear by Paul Klee


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