In Paul Klee's With the Setting Sun, viewers can see more of his Cubist roots than they sometimes see in other paintings. The artist does not pay as much attention to the background in this painting. It is interesting but does not pull attention away from the subject matter.
All of the shapes seen in the foreground blend effortlessly together. Each is distinct in form and in colour, leading to further investigation of exactly what the artist is saying through them. Klee was an Expressionist and always gave careful thought to each seleciton of line of colour used in his work.
With the Setting Sun captures the action at a time of day that is more associated with rest than heavy activity. Cooler colours are used in the painting as a result. Klee has selected a soft blend of light green and paler pastels for the upper right of the painting. If movement is interpreted as going from left to right, the viewer is taken from bold green on the left to this area of paler colour on the right. This has an impact that is soothing, as onlookers enjoy the reduced colour intensity.
Bold red is used in the centre of the painting. This brings to mind the colour of the setting sun. It is a shade that signals stop and perhaps, stop and rest. Certainly, the artist's intention in this piece seems to be that this red of the sun should signal that it is time to review the day and energise.
The outer forms are arranged in a way which makes them function almost as arrows. They lead the viewer around in a circle so that even as rest occupies the upper right hand corner of the painting, it is not the only thing that draw attention. Viewers are made aware that the scene is never at an end. It continues in a circle to be repeated.
In the lower left corner of the painting, steps are placed in an inviting manner. They may be inviting the viewer to a new day of work and productivity. They could also be inviting persons looking on to a place of brief rest. This 1919 painting does not contain much of the trauma seen in some of his paintings completed during the later years of war.
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