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


Paul Klee (1879-1940)
signed 'Klee' (lower right); dated, numbered and inscribed '1930 X.7. Ruhendes' (on the artist's mount)
watercolour and pen and ink on paper laid down on the artist's mount
sheet: 8 7/8 x 11 7/8 in. (22.6 x 30.2 cm.)
the artist's mount: 19¾ x 25¾ in. (50 x 65.5 cm.)
Executed in 1930
Marguerite Rothmund-Trüssel, Luins.
Eleanor Saidenberg collection, New York, by 1975.
Acquired from the above by the present owner.
J. Glaesemer, Paul Klee, Die farbigen Werke im Kunstmuseum Bern, Gemälde, farbige Blätter, Hinterglasbilder und Plastiken, Bern, 1976, p. 175.
The Paul Klee Foundation (ed.), Paul Klee, Catalogue raisonné, vol. 5, 1927-1930, Bern, 2001, no. 5253 (illustrated p. 481).
New York, Saidenberg Gallery, Honoring the Centenary of the Birth of Paul Klee, An Exhibition of Oils, Watercolors, Mixed Media and Drawings by Paul Klee, Dating from 1913 to 1940, March - May 1979, no. 41.

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Cornelia Svedman
Cornelia Svedman

Lot Essay

Executed towards the end of Paul Klee's years as a teacher, artist and theorist at the Bauhaus in Weimar and Dessau, where he worked from 1920 to 1931, Ruhendes, or 'Resting', is a manifestation of the artist's belief in the power of color and compositional arrangement to transport one's senses to a higher realm of being, and is an example of the beauty and lyricism that Klee extracted from the most simple geometrical lines and forms.

The work belongs to a series of seven watercolours executed in 1930 relating to a drawing lesson that Klee gave to his students at the Bauhaus on the subject of orientation in pictorial space (PKZ nos. 5253-5259). With a palette of only red and blue, ethereal swathes of watercolour are layered to create an illusion of depth, the sharp geometrical ink framing lending structure to the composition. At the centre, a subtle application of watercolour lends shadow to the two horizontal lines, which suggest a closed eye and mouth, peace and tranquility of one of Jawlensky's meditating heads.

As the artist explained to his students, 'Practical considerations in regard to space: the spatial character of the plane is imaginary. Often it represents a conflict for the painter. He does not wish to treat the third dimension illusionistically...but if different parts of the plane are given different values, it is hard to avoid a certain effect of depth. If everything remains perfectly flat, we might under certain circumstances have a good carpet. If it does not remain flat, we come to the formal problem of the third dimension. One of the artist's basic problems is how to enlarge space. We do it by means of overlapping planes. In this way we can create the illusion of larger and smaller planes in depth. Side by side, one behind the other, overlapping, interpenetrating...major-minor, large or small components, brilliance-darkness, behind-in front. And so the desire or need to bring in a third dimension gives rise to very simple artistic contrasts. If what we designate as the main object is not in the foreground but in between, and similar things lie in front and behind, as regards the third dimension we shall have three different frontal planes. Then the main action takes place in the middle, through its relation to the frontal planes "behind and in front"' (Paul Klee, in The Notebooks of Paul Klee, J. Spiller (ed.), New York, 1961, p. 49).

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