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Paul Klee (1879-1940)

Einblick in eine Stadt

Paul Klee (1879-1940)
Einblick in eine Stadt
signed 'Klee' (upper right); dated and numbered '1917-10' (on the artist's mount)
watercolour over pen and India ink on paper attached to the artist's mount
image: 5 x 10 in. (12.7 x 25.4 cm.)
mount: 9¾ x 12 7/8 in. (24.7 x 32.7 cm.)
Executed in 1917
Werner Allenbach, Bern, until 1963.
Galerie Beyeler, Basel, by whom acquired in 1963.
Galerie Beyeler, Basel, by whom re-acquired in 1989.
Jonathan Leaver, New York and London, by whom acquired in 1989 until 1994.
The Mayor Gallery, London.
Acquired from the above by the late owner, circa 1985.
W. Kersten & O. Okuda, Paul Klee: Im Zeichen der Teilung, exh. cat., Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Dusseldorf, 1995 (illustrated p. 332).
J. Anger, Modernism and the Gendering of Paul Klee, Providence, 1997, p. 89.
The Paul Klee Foundation (ed.), Paul Klee, catalogue raisonné, vol. 2, 1913-1918, Bern, 2000, no. 1693 (illustrated p. 372).
Stuttgart, Württembergischer Kunstverein, May 1917.
Munich, Galerie Neue Kunst Hans Goltz, Weihnachtsausstellung, December 1917, no. 105.
Stuttgart, Württembergischer Kunstverein, June - July 1918.
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Giovanna Bertazzoni
Giovanna Bertazzoni

Lot Essay

Taking as its subject matter the compact architectural forms of a small town, Einblick in eine Stadt illustrates how Klee drew on both the influences of Cubism and the colour theory of Delaunay to create a simple but articulate language that represents nature in abstract terms but without completely departing from the world of objective reality. The cell-like forms in Einblick in eine Stadt translate the colour harmonies of Delaunay's Orphist circles into angular blocks of geometric shapes to create a Cubist mosaic of coloured form that shimmers with light and gaiety. This joyous quality is conveyed purely through Klee's sensitivity to colour and light and reflects the developments he had made while in Tunisia where he experimented with the break-up of form using a similar combination of Cubist and colourist principles. The warmth and spirit which emanates from this boldly rendered town certainly stands in stark contrast to the European landscape that was left ravaged by the years of war.

The Paul Klee Foundation's catalogue raisonné lists 162 works from 1917. Klee's production in this year is indeed remarkable, for the First World War was then in its penultimate year, and the artist had been in uniform since March 1916. It helped that Klee had been assigned in January 1917 to take part in the construction of the flying school in Gersthofen, near Augsberg. In the following month he filled a position there as clerk in the paymaster's office, which he held until the end of the war. His work at the airfield, often consisting of guard duty at odd hours, was tedious, but he found time to paint. On 10 July he wrote in his diary: "Yesterday I was able to paint well. New work is preparing itself; the demoniacal shall be melted into simultaneity with the celestial, the dualism shall not be treated as such, but in its complementary oneness. The conviction is already present. It is questionable how far this can be achieved in my circumstances, which are only halfway favorable. Yet even the briefest moment, if is a good one, can produce a document of a new pitch of intensity" (quoted in F. Klee, ibid., pp. 372-373).

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