The History and Art of Mati Klarwein

Mati Klarwein was a visionary psychedelic artist that is still not known to many in the world today.  For those who have been fortunate enough to have been exposed to his art, have had the privilege of viewing the one of the foremost artist that the twentieth century ever produced.

Born in Hamburg, Germany in nineteen thirty-two, Mati Klarwein spent most of his youth in the new Israel.  Both of his parents were talented with his father being an architect and his mother an opera singer.  Since they were both Jewish, they escaped the ravages of Adolph Hitler’s Germany just in time.  Even though Klarwein spent his youth in Israel, he spent the rest of his life living and traveling around the world.

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Living, working and travelling at various times in Paris, New York, Spain, Italy, Greece, Turkey, India, Morocco, Niger, Haiti, Jamaica, Indonesia, Brazil, Mexico, Bahamas, Kenya, Senegal, Gambia, Cuba and Guatemala, Mati drew widely on these travels in his art, distilling this rich experience into an even richer visual imagery. (Teare)

All of these places left their mark on the artist and his work is not related to just one area.

            Klarwein got his start in Paris at the age of seventeen.

He studied painting at the Academie Julian, the Beaux Arts, as well as with Fernand Leger (1949-51) and Ernst Fuchs (1952-54) with whom he learned the mixed technique of the 16th century Flemish school. (Teare)

While he was there, he made friends with Salvador Dali, who was a great influence on the young artist.  It was during the nineteen fifties that Klarwein became fascinated with jazz music and allowed the sounds and rhythms inspire his art work.  His friendships with musicians ranged from Jimmy Hendrix to Santana.

THE ARTISTRY OF MATI KLARWEIN will always be connected with the music that he helped visualise: the mind-expanding explorations of the late sixties and early seventies. Perhaps the record covers of Santana’s “Abraxas” and Miles Davis’ “Bitches Brew” are even more widely recognised than their musical content. (Lindstrom)

His life and works were also heavily influenced by three different religions.  Of course the Jewish religion was the religion into which he was born, but by moving their young son to Israel, the Klarweins exposed him to Islamic culture as well as Jewish.  He even added the name Abdul to his own name in support of the Palestinians who lost their land after World War II.  There was also a heavy influence of the Christian religion in his life from the amount of time that he spent in Western Europe, especially Spain.

            Over the years, Klarwein’s art covered several genres.  He not only painted visionary art, but portraits, landscapes, and still life.

During the 80’s, Klarwein turned increasingly toward landscapes that were extremely unique in their abstract compositions and highly detailed executions with richly telluric and floric textures. “I like to play with perspectives,” he explained. (

In each one, he used vivid colors that stretched the imagination and captured life as he thought it was and should be.  Mixing the real with the surreal was something that Klarwein mastered early in his work and used throughout his career.  He never tried to make his work marketable, but could sell every painting he made.  (Grey)

            Sadly, Mati Klarwein died of cancer on March 2, 2002.  He left behind many works of art that will speak to generations.  He left the four children and a multitude of friends who he loved to spend his time.  His art is filled with the love of life that he had.

Works Cited

Caruana, L. “Mati Klarwein Remembered.” Visionary Revue. 2004 Fall 20, September 2008

Grey, Alex. In Memory of Mati Klarwein. 20, September 2008

Lindstrom, Conny, and Holmlund, Peter. The Manic Landscape of Mati Klarwein. 20, September


Teare, Steve, The Life and Art of Mati Klarwein. 2004. 20, September 2008



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