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Post Lot Text
'GARDEN FIGURE'; SIGNED UPPER RIGHT; OIL ON CANVAS.
As is customary in Klee's art, the poetic dimension of the title adds hidden depth to the networks of meaning that can be inferred from the canvas. In the case of Gartenfigur the name is purposely chosen by the painter for its dual aspect, oscillating between two possible meanings, where "garden figure" (the literal translation) is as much an abstract representation of a garden as a "figure garden". This face-landscape, or landscape-face, draws on the artistic theories advocated by the painter during his lessons at the Bauhaus between 1920 and 1931. Firstly, the work interprets nature both as a visual model and a structuring concept. It brings the artist and nature face to face in an essential dialogue - in Klee's own words, a "condition sine qua non" - since the artist is "himself nature and part of nature in natural space"1.
Man and nature are thus one and the same. This unity between man and nature as a whole is also reflected in the garden, a structured form of nature, built and created by man. Here again, we can see an illustration of the theory espoused by Klee, for whom paintings represented an autonomous structure with its own physiognomy, as he stated during a conference in Jena in 1924: "each formation, each combination will have its own particular, constructive expression, each figure its face, its features"2.
Finally, the paths that delineate this internal and external garden are as much a reflection of the creative journey undertaken by the artist as an invitation to the viewer to follow their course. Yet again encapsulating Klee's belief that "in the work of art, paths are laid out for the beholder's eye, which gropes like a grazing beast"3. It is therefore no coincidence that the garden and figure (whether it be a face or form) are able to find a meeting point, a symbiosis, in both title and representation.
1 Paul Klee, "Voies diverses dans l'étude de la nature", 1923, translation of Wege des Naturstudiums in Théorie de l'art moderne, Paris, 1998, p. 43.
2 Paul Klee, "De l'art moderne", 1924, op. cit., p. 27.
3 Paul Klee, "Credo du créateur", 1920, op. cit., p. 38.