PAUL KLEE (1879-1940)
PAUL KLEE (1879-1940)
PAUL KLEE (1879-1940)
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PAUL KLEE (1879-1940)
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This lot has been imported from outside of the UK … Read more PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE SWISS COLLECTION
PAUL KLEE (1879-1940)

Indianisch

Details
PAUL KLEE (1879-1940)
Indianisch
signed 'Klee' (upper left), dated '1937 T. 1.' (lower left, on the artist's mount) and inscribed 'indianisch' (lower right, on the artist's mount)
pastel on paper laid down on the artist’s mount
image: 18 7⁄8 x 13 1⁄8 in. (48.1 x 33.2 cm.)
artist's mount: 20 1⁄8 x 14 1⁄8 in. (51.5 x 36 cm.)
Executed in 1937
Provenance
Lily Klee, Bern, by descent from the artist, until 1946.
Klee-Gesellschaft, Bern, by whom acquired from the above in 1946.
with Buchholz Gallery [Curt Valentin], Berlin & New York, in 1948.
Saidenberg Gallery, Inc., New York, by whom acquired in 1951.
G. David Thompson, Pittsburgh, by whom acquired from the above, in 1953.
Saidenberg Gallery, Inc., New York, by whom acquired from the above, in 1955.
Arnold H. Maremont, Winnetka & Chicago, by whom acquired from the above, in 1955.
G. David Thompson, Pittsburgh, by whom acquired from the above.
B.C. Holland Gallery, Chicago.
Galerie Beyeler, Basel, by whom acquired from the above on 21 February 1969.
Jane Engelhard, Newark, by whom acquired from the above on 22 December 1969.
Galerie Beyeler, Basel, by whom acquired from the above on 6 January 1972.
Galerie Coray, Lugano, by whom acquired from the above 9 April 1986.
Private collection, Switzerland, and thence by descent to the present owner.
Literature
W. Grohmann, Paul Klee, London, 1954, p. 341.
M. Brion, Klee, Paris, 1955 (illustrated pl. VII; titled 'Pastille Indienne').
C. Lanchner, Paul-Klee-Stiftung & Kunstmuseum Bern, Paul Klee, His Life and Work, New York, 1987, p. 279 (illustrated).
The Paul Klee Foundation, ed., Paul Klee, Catalogue raisonné, vol. VII, 1934-1938, Bern, 2003, no. 7117, p. 276 (illustrated)
Exhibited
New York, Saidenberg Gallery, Paul Klee. An Exhibition of Paintings and Drawings commemorating the 75th Anniversary of his Birth, March - April 1954, no. 40.
Chicago, The Institute of Design, Illinois Institute of Technology, The Maremont Collection, April 1961, no. 66.
Washington D.C., Washington Gallery of Modern Art, Treasures of 20th Century Art from The Maremont Collection, April - May 1964, no. 80.
Basel, Galerie Beyeler, Klee. 'Kunst ist ein Schöpfungsgleichnis', September - November 1973, no. 67 (illustrated).
Paris, Galerie Karl Flinker, Klee. 74 œuvres de 1908 à 1940, March - May 1974, no. 56 (titled 'Indien').
Saint-Paul-de-Vence, Fondation Maeght, Paul Klee, July - September 1977, no. 133, p. 165 (illustrated p. 128; titled 'Indien').
Bern, Kunstmuseum Bern, Paul Klee. Das Spaetwerk 1937-1940, June - September 1979, no. 15.
Tokyo, Nantenshi Gallery, Paul Klee, May - June 1980 (illustrated).
Madrid, Fundación Juan March, Klee. Oleos, acuarelas, dibujos y grabados, March - May 1981, no. 71 (illustrated).
New York, The Museum of Modern Art, Paul Klee, February - May 1987, no. 238 (illustrated); this exhibition later travelled to Cleveland, The Cleveland Museum of Art, June - August 1987, and Bern, Kunstmuseum, September 1987 - January 1988.
Special notice

This lot has been imported from outside of the UK for sale and placed under the Temporary Admission regime. Import VAT is payable at 5% on the hammer price. VAT at 20% will be added to the buyer’s premium but will not be shown separately on our invoice.
Sale room notice
Please note the updated provenance for this work on Christies.com

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Micol Flocchini
Micol Flocchini Head of Works on Paper Sale

Lot Essay

Executed in 1937, Indianisch forms part of the immense body of work created by Paul Klee during the final years of his life, as he experienced an important rejuvenation within his art. Klee had been diagnosed with a rare skin disease, scleroderma, in 1935, the effects of which had left him bed-ridden and unable to work for much of the following year. However, by 1937 the artist was able to manage his symptoms sufficiently enough to return to work, and adapted his methods to accommodate his ill-health, sitting at a large drawing table instead of working before an easel, for example, to achieve a modicum of relief during the many hours he spent painting. The result was a tremendous out-pouring of creativity, as Klee completed hundreds upon hundreds of new works; having produced just 25 in 1936, his output jumped to 264 the following year, 489 in 1938 and, incredibly, over 1200 in 1939.
In 1937 Klee also turned to pastel crayon and executed a number of works in this medium, on cotton, burlap, and less frequently on paper, as is the case for the present work. The coloured chalks were often applied to a wet ground which absorbed them so that the pigments disappeared beneath the surface to create a firm, but soft impression. Linear elements are reduced to a minimum and consist of dark strokes of varying thickness which are placed over bold fields of colour. Klee liked the luminosity of pastels, their capacity for rendering brightness as well as nocturnal darks, and this is perfectly reflected in the present composition, made up of vibrant squares of reds, greens and mauves.
The plethora of marks which are placed over the lively background seem to hang together in a mysterious constellation, an intricate configuration of signs and symbols that forms a secret language of ciphers whose meanings remain beyond our reach. Grohmann compares the effect to that of a ‘stained glass window with heavy leading’ (W. Grohmann, Paul Klee, London, 1954, p. 336), and he further comments: ‘In 1937 Klee had already adopted the technical process that suited his artistic impulse of those years. His desire for directness, which was the outcome of a last detour around the tangible aspects of the natural and spiritual world, led him to use very simple shapes. Open bar-like strokes are the main features and the pictorial values are reduced to a supplementary function, or the colours lead an independent life of their own within a sparse framework’. (Ibid, pp. 326-7).
Klee's signs are flexible in meaning and size and shape: ‘Some of Klee's signs are ancient figures: the sun, moon, heart, wheel, flag. Others are basic geometric forms that he must have drawn a hundred times on Bauhaus blackboards. Now they appear in their own right. As was always true of Klee's graphic work, the process is synthetic rather than analytical: the signs generate the associations, rather than the reverse. The linear forms constitute an alphabet from which Klee could assemble his pictures. As with language, a finite number of elements can produce an infinite number of images. Ultimately the titles that are generalized, and the distance from a forest to a physiognomy is very slight.’ (A. Temkin, Paul Klee, New York 1987, p. 31). In Indianisch the shapes are rudimentary; once pieced together they are half recognisable, and the title confers on them an associative meaning and prompts us to discern the figure of a man therein.
Drawing inspiration from a variety of writing systems including the Latin alphabet, Egyptian hieroglyphs and cuneiform script, these marks oscillate between the familiar and the indecipherable, their forms echoing existing signs and shapes while also suggesting the free, semi-automatic creation of the artist. With their rough edges and painterly execution, these marks retain a clear sense of the energy of the artist’s hand, capturing the spontaneity and vigour Klee employed in their creation as he sought to channel his creative impulses into a concrete artistic expression as quickly as possible, as if he were racing against the clock as he neared the end of his life.
Indianisch is a particularly large and colourful example of works from this period; the striking palette, also vaguely reminiscent of a Navajo pattern, reflects that voracious appetite of Paul Klee for the creative expression of a variety of peoples, that is so widely acknowledged. Just like the amazing geometric patterns and joyful representations of the indigenous populations, Klee, too, manages to be at once childlike and profound, and his language seems to chime with theirs, as though at a certain level of imaginative intensity images have some kind of communal likeness.

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