Klee and Sendak

by tobelikeafeatherby

Dear Sarah,

Last month I went to see Paul Klee – Making Visible at the Tate Modern. Klee belonged to a German Expressionist group of artists called Der Blauer Reiter (1911-14), which also included Wassily Kandinsky and Franz Marc.

Klee’s paintings are small-scale but intense; notable for their jewel-like colours and abstracted figures, as well as an overarching sense of mystery.

Paul Klee, Redgreen and Violet-Yellow Rhythms, 1920

Paul Klee, 'Comedy' 1921

Paul Klee, Comedy, 1921

The figures in Klee’s paintings are mythical, and combined with a backdrop of rich, segmented colour, the artist creates otherworldly scenes. They remind me of children’s book illustrations because of their conscious naivety and imagination.

One of my favourite children’s book illustrators is Maurice Sendak. This interview, written towards the end of his life, is a great insight into his world, although he comes across despondent and is awaiting what he calls “yummy death”. Brokes suggests that Sendak’s books “acknowledge the terrors of childhood, how vicious and lonely it can be”, in short Sendak refused to sugar-coat his stories for children.

I first came across Sendak when I watched Spike Jonze’s film adaptation of his most famous book Where the Wild Things Are, which tells the story of a boy’s escapist adventures into deserts and forests with a motley crew of monsters. As well as striking visuals, the film has a pleasant soundtrack by Karen O.

For Christmas I got My Brother’s Book, which was the author’s last work and a tribute to his older brother. You can see the illustrations here. Similarly to Klee’s paintings they are images to get lost in. Below are a couple of my favourite, joyful pictures from the book, however some of the others are a lot more melancholic.

My Brother's Book: My Brother's Book by Maurice Sendak

Maurice Sendak, Image from My Brother’s Book, 2013

A blissfull sleep in multi-coloured rain drops above.

My Brother's Book: My Brother's Book by Maurice Sendak

Maurice Sendak, Image from My Brother’s Book, 2013

I love how happy the naked boy is in the illustration above!

Love,

Ellie

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