Peter Klasen was born on August 18, 1935 in Lübeck, Germany. As a young man, he witnessed the bombing of his hometown and lost his father, mobilized in 1943, and who was reported missing. He was admitted to the School of Fine Arts in Berlin in 1955, which was then Germany’s most avant-garde school. In 1959, he received a scholarship and chose to leave for Paris. In 1960, Klasen painted his first “tableau-rencontres” on which he contrasted cut-out images and their representation painted with an airbrush. From the 1960s to the beginning of the 1970s, his work is characterized by a very distinct vocabulary: everyday consumer goods (telephone, disc, sanitary equipment, etc.), seduction (lipstick and female body images cut from magazines or advertising posters), or even objects related to the body and the disease (thermometer, stethoscope, syringe…). Through this vocabulary, Klasen continues to use it in a very binary way and plays constantly on oppositions.
In 1981, the artist stays in New York: he finally discovers a mythical place, but which also seems to him already familiar through the cinema that he had watched so much before. Some aspects of the streets of the city, which he observes and photographs, fascinate him because of the way they look ragged, soiled and degraded by the numerous graffiti. So many elements that inspired him and can be found in his works ever since.
Since then, Klasen has continued to represent the urban vocabulary, that of the everyday and the ordinary, in order to develop an astonishing language of its own. His works are also present in many prestigious museum collections such as: the Georges Pompidou Center in Paris, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Seoul.