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

Gespenst der ersten Geliebten

Paul Klee (1879-1940)
Gespenst der ersten Geliebten
signed 'Klee' (lower right); dated, numbered and inscribed '1924.8 Gespenst der ersten Geliebten' (on the artist's mount)
oil, watercolour and pen and India ink on paper laid down on the artist's mount
Image: 14½ x 9 in. (37 x 23 cm.)
Artist's mount: 19½ x 12¼ in. (49.5 x 31.2 cm.)
Executed in 1924
Werner Allenbach, Bern.
Berggruen & Cie, Paris.
Werner Rusche, Cologne.
Acquired by the late husband of the present owner in the early 1970s.
The Paul Klee Foundation (ed.), Paul Klee, Catalogue raisonné, vol. 4, 1923-1926, Bern, 2000, no. 3376 (illustrated p. 156).
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Lot Essay

Painted in 1924 at the height of Klee's involvement with the Bauhaus, Gespenst der Ersten Geliebeten, or 'Spectre of the First Lover', is a magical, light-hearted and fanciful portrait of the frightening and seemingly unexpected ghost-like apparition of an ex-lover.

Branded with the number '1' imprinted in black in the middle of her forehead as a way of indicating that she is the 'first' in an apparent sequence of lovers, this patchwork-faced female with her clumsily arranged features, mad frizzy hair, stern string of pearls and smart evening dress is a comic-horror figure seemingly arise from some dark recess of the artist's mind. Materializing like a genie against the misty watercolour gloom of the painting's background, this ghostly figure is a comic assemblage of disparate but distinct forms from her screw-shaped eyes and wire-like hair to the v-sign of her crotch and the taught wire progression of her necklace. Magically coalescing together to form a somewhat totemic image that bears a strong resemblance to the many extraordinary puppet-figures that Klee continuously assembled from household materials at this time for his son Felix's puppet-theatre, this memorable figure is a powerful and humorous graphic incarnation of a forsaken and somewhat disgruntled ex-lover.

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