Joseph Kleitsch had a relatively short but distinguished career. Born in Hungary, he received his primary artistic training in Budapest, Paris and Munich before settling in Chicago where he encountered fellow students Alson Skinner Clark, Edgar Payne, Hanson Puthuff, and William Wendt. Kleitsch settled in California in 1920 where he became a prominent member of a rapidly growing arts scene in Los Angeles.
The Ambassador Hotel, "which had become the social center of Southern California," was also home to Earl Stendahl's prominent art gallery, which began representing Kleitsch in 1922. Also featured at the hotel was the G.T. Marsh and Company, a shop specializing in Asian imports that immediately attracted Kleitsch with its rich array of patterned tapestries, unusual foreign objects, decorations, and vividly colored textiles. The shop became a featured backdrop in several of Kleitsch's paintings in the early 1920s that he would then often exhibit at Stendahl's gallery, including the present re-discovered work, The Turquoise Buddha.
"On February 1, 1925, Antony Anderson exuberantly reviewed the exhibition of forty paintings by Kleitsch at the short-lived Stendahl-Hatfield Galleries: 'Ah those still-lives! You will pounce upon four or five in the gallery that are simply overwhelming in their virtuosity. If Frans Hals were alive today--Kleitsch reminds us of the Jolly Dutchman more than once--he would toss up his cap and shout, 'I greet you brother, for you sure can tickle the canvas and make it laugh for joy.''" (as quoted in P. Trenton, Joseph Kleitsch: A Kaleidoscope of Color, Irvine, California, 2007, p. 143)
"Anderson next invites his readers to linger over The Turquoise Buddha [the present painting] ('the largest piece of carved turquoise in the world'), which he finds 'more subtle and more exquisite in its gradations of tone and color than 'Yellow and Blue Cloissonee [sic].'' Exalting over the many textures the artist achieved in rendering 'a cup lined with gold, a ruby-colored goblet, and shimmering [Asian] fabrics with threads of gold and silver running through them,' he avers that the work is 'an amazing tour de force in paint.'" (Joseph Kleitsch: A Kaleidoscope of Color , pp. 144-45)
We are grateful to Dr. Patricia Trenton for her assistance with this catalogue entry.