Indan Journal of Medical Research Indan Journal of Medical Research Indan Journal of Medical Research
  Home About us Editorial board Search Ahead of print Current issue Archives Submit article Instructions Subscribe Contacts Login  
  Home Print this page Email this page Small font sizeDefault font sizeIncrease font size Users Online: 4290       

   Table of Contents      
Year : 2010  |  Volume : 132  |  Issue : 6  |  Page : 750-751

Paul Klee and his illness

Department of Dermatology & Leprosy, Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education & Research, Chandigarh 160 012, India

Date of Web Publication9-Apr-2011

Correspondence Address:
Sanjeev Handa
Department of Dermatology & Leprosy, Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education & Research, Chandigarh 160 012
Login to access the Email id

Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

Rights and PermissionsRights and Permissions

How to cite this article:
Handa S. Paul Klee and his illness. Indian J Med Res 2010;132:750-1

How to cite this URL:
Handa S. Paul Klee and his illness. Indian J Med Res [serial online] 2010 [cited 2021 May 6];132:750-1. Available from:

Paul Klee and his illness, H. Suter (S. Karger, Basel, Switzerland) 2010. 272 pages. Price: US$ 120.00

ISBN 978-3-8055-9381-6

Dr Hans Suter in his book Paul Klee and His Illness had set for himself the following objectives:

  • To collect as far as possible all the information which still exits on Paul Klee's illness.
  • To reappraise the hypothetic diagnosis of scleroderma. Could it have been another disease?
  • To considers whether his illness has in influence on this psyche and his creative work.
  • To look at Paul Klee's later works in the light of his personality, social environment his illness and his imminent demise.

The author has succeeded remarkably on all four counts. Considering the author's objectives one by one the effort that Dr Hans Suter made to glean information from bits and pieces of Paul Klee's nearly non-existent medical and dental records, notes kept by his wife, letters written to his friends and his wife Lily and also the correspondence made by his wife with other family friends is commendable. He has been able to painstakingly chronicle the sequence of events in the later years of Paul Klee's life. He used this information with a judicious mix of his knowledge of medicine as practiced in the late 1930s, symptoms about Paul Klee's illness as made out by his research and made a presumptive diagnosis of scleroderma. He has used his clinical acumen to exclude various differential diagnoses and to reach at this conclusion.

To arrive at a decision regarding the influence of his disease on his work, Dr Hans Suter has beautifully chosen those sketches and paintings where the theme reflects the artist's physical and mental agony. He has been able to illustrate the artist's intuitive mind, his ability to transform his emotion into art. The author in the choice of paintings like High Spirits has also beautifully reflected the small battles won against his disease by Paul Klee. Hans Suter has also been able to bring about through his work the spiritual chord in Paul Klee's life, his acceptance of human mortality and his belief in another life after death. In fact, Suter has recreated all the stages of the artist's life through his art, suffering, fear, doubt, resistance, hope and finally acceptance as he sketched or painted it.

In summary, the author has painstakingly collected pieces of information on Paul Klee's illness and his artistic work and cobbled them together in a cohesive, easily, readable, refreshing book. It is a wonderful and sensitive depiction of the indomitable spirit of Paul Klee, who in spite of his crippling disease produced a remarkable number of sketches and paintings with themes related to his personal life. The sketches and paintings chosen by Hans Suter to describe the mental turmoil of Paul Klee in different situations are very apt. The reader can feel the agony of Paul Klee following his expulsion from his adopted home by Nazi Germany and the lukewarm welcome by the people of Bern, Switzerland. Form a dermatologist's perspective through the diagnosis of scleroderma may not be acceptable due to lack of tangible proof as required by today's evidence-based practice of medicine, Hans Suter succeeds in convincing the readers through his logical inferences as to Paul Klee's actual illness being scleroderma.

A must read for physicians and art enthusiasts alike.


    Similar in PUBMED
   Search Pubmed for
   Search in Google Scholar for
    Access Statistics
    Email Alert *
    Add to My List *
* Registration required (free)  

  In this article

 Article Access Statistics
    PDF Downloaded126    
    Comments [Add]    

Recommend this journal