PAUL KLEE (1879-1940)
PAUL KLEE (1879-1940)
PAUL KLEE (1879-1940)
PAUL KLEE (1879-1940)
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This lot has been imported from outside of the UK … Read more PROPERTY FROM AN IMPORTANT AMERICAN FAMILY COLLECTION
PAUL KLEE (1879-1940)

Blumensteg

Details
PAUL KLEE (1879-1940)
Blumensteg
signed, dated and numbered ‘Klee 1913. 124.’ (lower left)
oil on board
23 1/4 x 16 1/4 in. (59 x 41 cm.)
Painted in 1913
Provenance
Galerie Neue Kunst [Hans Goltz], Munich, by 1918.
Alfred Flechtheim, Dusseldorf, Berlin, Paris & London, by 1920.
Wilhelm Uhde, Paris.
Annemarie Weinschenk, Wiesbaden; sale, Stuttgarter Kunstkabinett, Stuttgart, 10-12 May 1950, lot 1486.
Sidney Janis Gallery, New York (no. 3057), by whom acquired at the above sale.
Sarah Reed Blodgett, Portland, Oregon, by 1957, and thence by descent.
Literature
W. Grohmann, Paul Klee, Paris, 1929, no. 3, n.p. (illustrated p. 2).
K. Scheffler, 'Paul Klee: Ausstellung in der Galerie Alfred Flechtheim', in Kunst und Künstler, vol. XXVIII, Berlin, December 1930, pp. n.p. & 112 (illustrated p. 112; dated '1929').
C. Zervos, 'Paul Klee: 1879-1940', in Cahiers d'Art, 1945-1946, Paris, 1946, p. 17 (illustrated; titled 'sentier fleuri').
P. Selz, German Expressionist Painting, Berkeley, 1957, no. 108, p. 271 (illustrated n.p.; titled 'Flower Path').
S. Frey & W. Kersten, 'Paul Klees geschäftliche Verbindung zur Galerie Alfred Flechtheim', in Alfred Flechtheim: Sammler, Kunsthändler, Verleger, exh. cat., Kunstmuseum, Dusseldorf, 1987, pp. 65 & 67.
J. Anger, Modernism and the Gendering of Paul Klee, Ann Arbor, 1997, p. 104 (titled 'Flower Path').
The Paul Klee Foundation, ed., Paul Klee, Catalogue raisonné, vol. II, 1913-1918, Bern, 2000, no. 1026, p. 90 (illustrated).
J. Anger, Paul Klee and the Decorative in Modern Art, Cambridge, 2004, pp. 106, 209, 214, 219, 225 & 305.
S. Kaufmann, Paul Klee als Druckgraphiker, Zwischen Invention und Reproduktion, Berlin, 2015, p. 86 (illustrated fig. 77, p. 88).
A. Bourneuf, Paul Klee, The Visible and the Legible, Chicago, 2015, p. 35.
H.-P. Wittwer, 'Biografien', in Paul Klee und die Surrealisten, exh. cat., Zentrum Paul Klee, Bern, 2016, p. 378.
O. Dascher, 'Es ist was Wahnsinniges mit der Kunst', in Alfred Flechtheim, Sammler, Kunsthändler, Verleger, Zurich, 2011, p. 440.
Exhibited
Munich, Moderne Galerie Thannhauser, Paul Klee, March 1914, no. 5, n.p.; this exhibition later travelled to Berlin, Galerie Der Sturm, April 1914.
Berlin, Galerie der Sturm, Albert Bloch, Paul Klee, March 1916, no. 53, n.p..
Munich, Neue Münchner Secession, June - October 1918, no. 70, p. 20.
Dusseldorf, Galerie Alfred Flechtheim, Auf dem Wege zur Kunst unserer Zeit: Vorkriegsbilder und Bildwerke, July - August 1919, no. 72, p. 34.
Hanover, Kestner-Gesellschaft, Paul Klee, Lyonel Feininger, 29 Sonderausstellung, November 1919 - January 1920, no. 11, n.p..
Dusseldorf, Galerie Alfred Flechtheim, In Memoriam Lehmbruck, Paul Klee, Walter Tanck, March - April 1920, no. 25, p. 14.
Dusseldorf, Städtischer Kunstpalast, Grosse Kunstausstellung, May - October 1920, no. 659, p. 51.
Berlin, Galerie Flechtheim, Deutsche und französische Kunst aus des XX. Jahrhunderts Beginn, October 1921, no. 48, n.p..
New York, Sidney Janis Gallery, Climax 1913, January - February 1951, no. 18.
New York, Curt Valentin Gallery, Lehmbruck and His Contemporaries, September - October 1951, no. 24, n.p. (titled 'Flower Path').
New York, Sidney Janis Gallery, French Masters, January - February 1953, no. 8.
Portland, Portland Art Museum, The Collection of Sarah Reed Blodgett of Portland: European and American Paintings, Sculptures, Drawings, and Prints, September - October 1965, no. 34, n.p..
New Orleans, New Orleans Museum of Art, German & Austrian Expressionism, November 1975 - January 1976, no. 37, pp. 30 & 57 (illustrated p. 57; titled 'Flower Path').
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.

Brought to you by

Tessa Lord
Tessa Lord Director, Senior Specialist

Lot Essay

Throughout his artistic career, Paul Klee regarded the study of nature – its eternal rhythms and cycles, processes and structures – as the very foundation of his art. He believed that by reaching into nature the artist was able to absorb impressions of the world, which could then be channelled into a subjective vision that expressed the inherent truths of the universe. Comparing the source of an artist’s creative impulse to the growth of a tree, Klee explained: ‘From the root the sap flows to the artist, flows through him, flows to his eye. Thus he stands as the trunk of the tree. Battered and stirred by the strength of the flow, he moulds his vision into his work’ (quoted in E-G. Güse, ed., Paul Klee: Dialogue with Nature, Munich, 1991, p. 26). However, as with the tree, the resulting image could not be an exact reflection of its source material. Rather, the crown of the tree must diverge from the pattern of its roots and develop its own identity, allowing a space for the artist’s creativity to blossom in a new, subjective manner.

Painted in 1913, Blumensteg is a dynamic early expression of these concepts, which emerged during a pivotal moment of evolution in Klee’s oeuvre. At this time, the artist was living in the stimulating environment of Munich, and had recently been introduced to the revolutionary Blaue Reiter group, led by Wassily Kandinsky and Franz Marc. After years of isolation, Klee now found himself in the midst of a network of like-minded avant-garde artists, many of whom were similarly seeking an art that reflected an inner-necessity, beyond the world of appearances. He was particularly impressed by Kandinsky’s early Murnau landscapes, which infused the natural world with heightened, vivid tones and simplified forms. Such works, combined with the invigorating conversations he shared with different members of the Blaue Reiter circle, granted Klee a renewed sense of confidence in the direction of his own experiments, unleashing his vision in bold new directions.

However, it was the influence of Robert Delaunay which had the most profound impact on Klee’s art during these years. Having initially encountered the Frenchman’s work at the first Blaue Reiter Exhibition in December 1911, Klee visited the artist’s studio during the spring of 1912 while on a short sojourn to Paris, bearing a letter of introduction from Kandinsky. Here, he saw the early stages of Delaunay’s ground-breaking series of Fenêtres, in which the Parisian cityscape viewed through the studio window was transformed into a semi-abstract, prismatic grid-like structure, rich with subtly modulated colour. Later that year, Klee immersed himself further in Delaunay’s theories, translating the French artist’s essay ‘Sur la lumière’ into German for the avant-garde periodical Der Sturm.

Blumensteg reveals the manner in which Klee’s work was evolving rapidly during this period, as he explored the expressive potentials of Delaunay’s style. Dividing the composition into a rhythmic sequence of delicately coloured planes, Klee explores the rich profusion of natural forms seen in a flower stand through an abstract language of form and colour. In places, the curvilinear planes appear to echo the natural shapes of blooms, though the overall sense is one of pictorial harmony and synthesis, the flowers rendered as simplified blocks of colour arranged in a rich pattern. While Klee’s passion for plants had been fostered during his youth by his parent’s colourful and extensive garden, his move to Munich in 1906 had forced the artist to channel his horticultural interests into an ever-growing personal collection of indoor plants and succulents. He also sought inspiration in the parks and public gardens of the metropolis, as well as the small pockets of nature he discovered in the cityscape.

Klee clearly held Blumensteg in high esteem, choosing to include it in several important early exhibitions, including his one-man show at the Moderne Galerie Thannhauser in Munich in March 1914, which subsequently travelled to Herwarth Walden’s renowned Galerie Der Sturm in Berlin. The painting was acquired by the family of the present owner in 1957, and has remained a treasured part of their collection for over sixty years.

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