PAUL KLEE (1879-1940)
Drei Köpfe
lithograph, on Japon paper, 1919, Kornfeld's first state (of three), signed and annotated '9' in pencil, numbered 1/10 before the edition of unknown size with annotations added to the stone and before the edition with text verso, with full margins, framed
Image: 4 ¾ x 5 7/8 in. (121 x 150 mm.)
Sheet: 7 7/8 x 9 ¼ in. (200 x 235 mm.)
Kornfeld 70
Williamstown, Massachusetts, Williams College Museum of Art; Boston, Massachusetts, Museum of Fine Arts; The Modern Art of the Print: Selections from the Collection of Lois and Michael Torf, 5 May-14 October 1984, no. 117, p. 148; pl. X , p. 50 (illustrated)

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Lot Essay

Born in Switzerland, Paul Klee spent most of his creative career in Germany. From 1906 to 1920 he lived in Munich where, in 1920, he received a telegram from Walter Gropius asking him to join the Bauhaus design school. After ten years there and, subsequently position with the Prussian State Academy in Dusseldorf from 1931 to 1933, he returned to Switzerland, remaining until his death in 1940.
Three Heads, probably produced by transferring a finished drawing to the lithographic stone' was made at a pivotal point in Klee's career. It was created soon after his demobilization from the military (Klee lost several close friends in the conflicts of World War I, notably Franz Marc) and comes immediately prior to his shift in emphasis toward oil painting and his move to the Bauhaus. One of ten signed and numbered impressions, it is the ninth work produced by Klee in 1919, and is indicated by his work numbering system (see below the image immediately following the date). At least one example from this edition (that in the collection of the Musée National d'Art Moderne, Paris) was hand colored. A later edition of the print, without signature and numbering, was one of six Klee lithographs included in the publication Munchner Blatter fur Dichtung und Graphik (Munich Pages for Poetry and Graphic Art) of 1919.
With the publication of several other litho- graphs and important critical articles, Klee, after long years of struggle, was finally included within the small circle of leading German graphic artists. During this time he was becoming more absorbed in subjective works drawn from personal experience. His emphasis turned toward the human image In this work and in a related print of the same year: Absorption - Self Portrait - Portrait of an Expressionist (Kornfeld 73).
The central figure in Three Heads is probably not a self-portrait, but the closely knit figures do suggest a family group with the father figure outscaling wife and child. His face is dominated by enormous eyes with an anxious, searching expression.
The naive, childlike conception of the transparent figures and the spidery, tremulous strokes that delineate them are characteristic of Klee’s art at this moment.
Steven S. High, The Modern Art of the Print: Selections from the Collection of Lois and Michael Torf, p. 50

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