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Style Imitating Art (SIA): Castle and Sun by Paul Klee

Salazar at 14 Shades of Grey is the curator for this round of Style Imitating Art (SIA), and she picked the 1928 painting Castle and Sun by the Swiss-born German artist Paul Klee. Salazar likes the geometric shapes, graphic quality, and explosion of colors in this work.

It's interesting to me that it's the sun rather than the moon hanging in the dark sky over this sharply geometric building. It has a mottled quality reminiscent of the moon (such as in the second photo in this essay, taken at the Space Shuttle Endeavour launch), but I guess the sun can look like this too. Either way, there is an odd, fascinating tension here between the natural and man-made figures in this work.


This painting is described as a "city scene" or "city skyline"...which surprised me given the "castle" in the name. Let's chase this down a bit. The original German title is Burg und Sonne. Sonne is unambiguously "sun," and Burg translates into a variety of words like castle, fortified building, fortress, citadel, and stronghold...a high place that is defendable (in contrast to the other word for castle - Schloss - which is used for a fancy palace with less emphasis on defense). However, "so many towns grew up around castles that [Burg] almost came to mean city, and is incorporated into many place names, such as Hamburg, Flensburg, and Strasburg" (Wikipedia). But the classic word for city in German is Stadt, not Burg. So: city or castle? I suppose that's up to the viewer to decide.

I identified three elements from this painting for my outfit inspiration:

(1) Colors: Brown, rust, red, green, blue, yellow;

(2) Geometric shapes: Squares, rectangles, triangles, circles, diamonds;

(3) Straight lines.

I first looked for a print item that reflected the basic colors and shapes of the painting but found nothing appropriate for summer weather. Surprising, right? But neither the colors nor the shapes of the artwork are my favorites, and the color palette is not a traditional one for summer.

So next I turned to my solid pieces and considered the array of color options, especially the range of rusty red colors that are so prominent in the work...and that reminded me of the rust pants that I featured in a multiple-post series on rust color combos. I remembered working with rust and yellow, and when I reviewed that post, I rediscovered a couple of outfit ideas that were promising for this SIA.

The first outfit idea was a nice summery option in yellow, rust, gold, and a floral scarf to draw the colors together into an analogous color scheme from Red-Orange through Orange to Yellow on the color wheel.

Outfit Idea #1 from Rust Color Combos

The second outfit idea was a blended rust/maroon fall outfit with a striped button up shirt as an under-layer.

Outfit Idea #2 from Rust Color Combos

So I built my outfit by taking the rust pants, adding the yellow tank and mustard flats from outfit idea #1, and adding the striped shirt from outfit idea #2. This base outfit covered the colors and the straight lines of the painting. I very much liked that the shirt with bright stripes on a white background added a light, summery vibe appropriate to the season (even though not evident in the painting).

OOTD 8/9/22

It fell to my accessories to carry the geometric shapes element of the painting, and I actually found more options than I could wear (even with my willingness to go overboard!). I narrowed my layered necklace down to 9 pieces: yellow necklace [squares], 5 colorful seed bead strands [circles], gold lantern on paperclip chain [rectangles], multi-colored tassel necklace [triangles], and mixed metal chain necklace [to bring together the gold and silver tones].

With such a complicated layered necklace already included, I elected to let one accessory be very simple: this gold/silver geometric bracelet from CJ Banks.

For my earrings, I originally planned to wear a pair of square blue crystal earrings, but then I had a silly yet irresistible idea: What if I made my own earrings inspired by the colors and geometric shapes of the painting? So with a couple of days off work, I got to thinking and made these earrings using upcycled paperboard (i.e., a tissue box), two eye pins, two French hooks, and a design hand drawn and colored in permanent marker on regular white computer paper. I made the earring base in a circular shape and added the squares, rectangles, and triangles in the drawn design. Including all the colors from the painting would be too much, so I stuck with five of them. Overall, I thought these had a pretty good Castle and Sun vibe.

The earrings have five layers of paperboard glued together with tacky glue to produce a lightweight but sturdy disc that reminds me a lot of wood. (As my mom pointed out, there's a reason for that...haha.) I painted the discs with acrylic paint, and I ended up gluing the paper to the front with the colored side down because that gave the design more of a stained glass look that I liked. I covered it all with Art Deco Triple Thick, which gave the pieces shine and a bit of texture (which felt appropriate to an inspiration painting done in oil on canvas). I remembered to take photos while making these earrings so I can follow up with a tutorial. They're easy to make (though there is a good amount of waiting for things to dry) and a lot of fun!

I recognize that these particular paper earrings are kind of a lot (and definitely too much for some people's style), but I am very happy with how they turned out. And I don't think I will have difficulty finding outfits to wear them with in the future. They coordinate very well with the colors in this striped shirt, so that's a combination I'll definitely turn to again, and I like to wear the primary colors red and/or blue regularly, which will offer good opportunities to jazz up an outfit with some eye-catching art-inspired earrings.

I tend to wear this shirt more often in cool weather layered underneath a sweater, cardigan, or jacket, but this isn't the first summer OOTD to feature it. Here's another example with yellow, this time an inner column of color accessorized with mixed metals and leopard print alternative to the highly colorful accessories of today's look.

And while I like to wear the shirt with layered necklaces, the stripes give it the oomph to wear no necklace at all, especially when coordinated with bright blue jeans and floral print Keds. (I can 100% see the Castle and Sun earrings in this outfit, by the way.)

Mint T + black capris - Summer plus size outfit idea for women over 40

When I went through my print items for a summery piece and came up empty, I did find this heavier fall/winter scarf with richly colored stripes that I thought would work wonderfully in a cold weather Castle and Sun inspired outfit. Here is a version with a brown modern twin set of pullover sweater and quilted vest and brown leather flats (worn with brown trouser socks). While the color match between the scarf and earrings isn't 100% (but the yellow, brown, green, and black are there), I would still give the combination a try.

In case you were wondering, I personally interpreted the Burg in the painting as a castle rather than a city...which is also reflected in my Rabbit Imitating Art selection! See this New Zealand rabbit with the rich reddish-brown fur yearn for freedom from the confines of his cage...or is he instead feeling empowered to investigate the strange human before him because he is protected by his fortress? A cage, a castle, a city, a citadel...they are cryptic and complex concepts.

New Zealand Red rabbit

Placed in the context of our inspiration painting, our bunny friend seems confident in the security of his sanctuary yet curious about the world outside, such as the strange sun that dominates the dark skies above...which is very mysterious to me as well!

Castle and Sun "improved" with rabbit

Thanks for joining me today for this Style Imitating Art + Crafts Imitating Art + Rabbit Imitating Art post!

Style Imitating Art + Crafts Imitating Art

To see other outfit interpretations of this artwork, check out the review on 14 Shades of Grey.

Do you have an opinion on the city versus citadel conundrum? What do you make of that strange sun? Do you wear geometric prints? When's the last time you put pen (or pencil or marker or crayon) to paper?

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