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

Abstract Garten Dämmerung

Paul Klee (1879-1940)
Abstract Garten Dämmerung
signed 'Klee' (lower right); dated and numbered '1914 118' (on the artist's mount)
watercolor on paper laid down on the artist's mount
sheet size: 3 7/8 x 5 in. (10 x 12.6 cm.)
mount size: 8 7/8 x 9¾ in. (22.5 x 24.7 cm.)
painted in 1914
Richard Kisling, Zürich (gift from the artist, 1914).
Berggruen & Cie, Paris (1960-1961).
Galerie Beyeler, Basel (1961-1962).
Silberschmidt-Veraguth, Switzerland (1962).
Anon. sale, Sotheby's, London, 27 June 1990, lot 340.
Private collection, London.
Jan Krugier, acquired from the above, May 2001.
P. Klee, Oeuvre-Katalog, 1914, no. 118.
R. Suter-Raeber, "Paul Klee. Der Durchbruch zur Farbe und zum abstrakten Bild" in Paul Klee: das Frühwerk, 1883-1922, exh. cat., Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Munich, 1979, pp. 153 and 162.
O.K. Werckmeister, The Making of Paul Klee's Career, 1914-1920, Chicago, 1989, p. 262, note 33.
W. Kersten and O. Okuda, Paul Klee im Zeichen der Teilung, exh. cat., Staatsgalerie Stuttgart, 1995, p. 172 (illustrated, p. 326).
The Paul Klee Foundation, ed., Paul Klee, Catalogue raisonné, Bonn, 2000, vol. 2, p. 178, no. 1218 (illustrated).
London, Brook Street Gallery, Klee, Picasso: Drawings, Watercolours, November-December 1960, p. 8 (illustrated; titled Landscape with Beams).
Basel, Galerie Beyeler, Paul Klee, June-September 2008, no. 5 (illustrated).

Lot Essay

Abstract Garten Dämmerung (Abstract Garden Twilight) is the second of three pictures in a series of early near abstract works, each incorporating light paths and colored circles, that Klee painted in 1914 (fig. 1). These paintings display a fusion of a range of influences from Cubism and Kandinsky, to the color studies he had made on his recent travels to Tunisia with August Macke. In their use of flat, seemingly abstract planes of color, in particular, they also mark the important influence of the work and ideas of Robert Delaunay on Klee. The paintings in Delaunay's Fenêtres series (1912-1913) had a significant impact on Klee's work, having demonstrated the visionary potential of fusing cubist-derived fracture of form with pure, prismatic color. During Klee's trip with Macke, Delaunay's influence was acutely felt as Klee wrote in his diary on 16 April: "Color possesses me. I don't have to pursue it. It will always possess me. I know it. That is the meaning of this happy hour: Color and I are one. I am a painter" (quoted in F. Klee, ed., The Diaries of Paul Klee 1898-1918, Berkeley, 1964, p. 297).

Taking as its subject matter a garden at twilight--signified through the single floating star--Abstract Garten Dämmerung illustrates how Klee drew on both the influences of Cubism and the color 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 composition of Abstract Garten Dämmerung translates the color harmonies of Delaunay's Orphist circles into a dynamic composition of cones and blocks of geometric shapes to create a Cubist mosaic of colored form. A visual play and counterbalance of light and dark tones, articulates Klee's often stated desire to be able to "improvise" freely with the "watercolours in his paintbox as if they were a keyboard" (Paul Klee, "Creative Credo" in The Inward Vision: Watercolours, Drawings and Writings by Paul Klee, New York, 1959, pp. 5-10).

(fig. 1) Paul Klee, Movements of Vaulted Chambers, 1915. The Berggruen Klee Collection, 1984, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

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