Paul Klee (1879-1940)
Paul Klee (1879-1940)

Weil alles fliesst

Paul Klee (1879-1940)
Weil alles fliesst
signed 'Klee' (lower left)
watercolor and pen and black ink on paper laid down on paper
Sheet size: 6½ x 9 in. (16.5 x 22.9 cm.)
Mount size: 8½ x 10¾ in. (21.6 x 27.3 cm.)
Executed circa 1929
Walter Kaesbach, Hemmenhofen (gift from the artist).
Hans Neumann, Caracas.
Roman Norbert Ketterer, Stuttgart; sale, Stuttgarter Kunstkabinett, 3 May 1961, lot 246.
Anon. (acquired at the above sale by the family of the owner); sale, Christie's, New York, 14 November 1996, lot 295.
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.
The Paul Klee Foundation, ed., Paul Klee, Catalogue raisonné, Bern, 2001, vol. 5, p. 409, no. 5106 (illustrated).
Dusseldorf, Galerie Alex Vömel, Paul Klee, August Macke, October 1952, no. 29.
Pasadena Art Museum; San Francisco Museum of Art; Columbus Gallery of Fine Arts; Cleveland Museum of Art; Kansas City, William Rockhill Nelson Gallery of Art; Baltimore Museum of Art; St. Louis, Washington University Gallery of Art and Philadelphia Museum of Art, Paul Klee, A Retrospective Exhibition, February 1967-February 1968, no. 121 (illustrated, p. 83).
Caracas, Museo de Bellas Artes, Paul Klee, July 1969, no. 6 (illustrated).
Caracas, Museo de Bellas Artes, Arte Aleman en Venezuela, June-August 1979.

Lot Essay

Paul Klee has been described as the greatest realist of our time. His realism, however, is concerned with the essence of things, and not their surface appearance. In this regard, there has indeed been no artist who better captures the spirit and inner workings of our world. The link between the inner self and the outer animal is more complete in Klee's work than in that of any of his contemporaries. As Will Grohmann has explained,

Group his themes together and they encompass the universe, not only the plenitude of things but the secrets of their birth and growth, the mystery of their innumerable sublunar and cosmic linkages. His art mirrors almost every area of human thought; he visualizes the rise, evolution, and fate of human, plant, and animal life, as well as their transformation into primeval and potential states (Paul Klee 1879-1949: A Retrospective Exhibition, exh. cat., The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, 1967, p. 14).

Weil alles fliesst is a whimsical drawing, which illustrates Klee's vision of nature while accentuating his skill as a draftsman. An organic creature, an odd cross between a slug and a mountain goat, is executed on a green background. Though one can identify this form as an animal of some sort, it is not meant to represent a specific one. Rather, the viewer immediately focuses on the lines within the figure--how they curve and where they intersect. The eye follows the lines from the tips of the creature's three antennae down, as they curve over the forehead and explode into a ball of frenzied disarray at the back of the head, perhaps signifying the brain's activity. From there, the lines travel down and split, with one section continuing through the creature's body, along its back and then up to its tail where there is an explosion of undulating lines and organic formations. Klee's use of color organizes the process, filling in different solid colors in between the lines. This clearly divides them into separate elements, perhaps to represent the digestive tract.

Yet this is not a scientific account of a specific animal's biological processes. This is Klee's highly organized perception of the natural world. He titles the work Weil alles fliesst, literally "because everything flows." An avid reader of philosophy, it is likely that Klee was referencing Heraclitus' famous observation that "everything is in a state of flux." The movement and flow within this organic form can therefore be understood both as a representation of the order of nature, and as a larger metaphor for the endless continuum in which the entire universe exists.

According to the Paul Klee Stiftung this work was removed from its orginal mount and most likely remounted and reinscribed with its title by Felix Klee in 1954.

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