PAUL KLEE (1879-1940)
PAUL KLEE (1879-1940)
PAUL KLEE (1879-1940)
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PAUL KLEE (1879-1940)
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The Property of a Private European Charitable Foundation
PAUL KLEE (1879-1940)

Exotischer Garten

PAUL KLEE (1879-1940)
Exotischer Garten
signed, dated and numbered 'Klee 1926 B7' (lower right)
oil on canvas
20 5⁄8 x 16 3⁄8 in. (52.4 x 41.6 cm.)
Painted in 1926
Rudolf Probst (Galerie Neue Kunst Fides; Das Kunsthaus), Dresden and Mannheim (by 1928).
Alfred Flechtheim, Dusseldorf and Berlin (by 1928).
Erich Raemisch, Krefeld (by 1929).
The Buchholz Gallery (Curt Valentin), Berlin and New York (acquired from the above, 1938).
Ludmilla and Hans Arnhold, New York (acquired from the above, by 1956, then by descent).
Private Foundation, Europe (gift from the above).
W. Grohmann, Paul Klee, Paris, 1929 (illustrated).
M. Miller, ed., Paul Klee: Statements by the Artist, New York, 1946 (illustrated).
D. Cooper, Paul Klee, Harmondsworth, 1949 (illustrated).
The Paul Klee Foundation, ed., Paul Klee: Catalogue raisonné, 1923-1926, Bern, 2000, vol. IV, pp. 431 and 464, no. 4068 (illustrated, p. 464; illustrated again in color, p. 431).
U. Fleckner, T.W. Gaehtgens and C. Huemer, Markt und Macht: Der Kunsthandel im "Dritten Reich," Hamburg, 2017, pp. 200, 210 and 212.
Dresden, Städtischer Ausstellungspalast, Internationale Kunstausstellung, June-September 1926, p. 83, no. 530.
Berlin, Galerie Alfred Flechtheim, Paul Klee, March 1928, p. 11, no. 6.
New York, The Buchholz Gallery (Curt Valentin), Paul Klee, March-April 1938, no. 24.
New York, The Buchholz Gallery (Curt Valentin), Paul Klee, November 1938, no. 18.
Cambridge, Germanic Museum, Harvard University, Paul Klee, February-March 1940.
San Francisco, Palace of Fine Arts, Golden Gate International Exposition, 1940, no. 666.
Northampton, Smith College Museum of Art; The Arts Club of Chicago; The Portland Art Museum; San Francisco Museum of Art; Los Angeles, The Stendahl Galleries; St. Louis City Art Museum and New York, The Museum of Modern Art, Paul Klee: Memorial Exhibition, January-July 1941, p. 10, no. 34 (illustrated; with incorrect dimensions).
The Philadelphia Art Alliance, Paul Klee: Paintings, Drawings, Prints, March-April 1944, p. 6, no. 18.
New York, Kleemann Galleries, Paul Klee, March 1955, no. 7 (illustrated; titled Zauberwald and with incorrect dimensions).
Kunstmuseum Bern, Paul Klee: Ausstellung in Verbindung mit der Paul-Klee-Stiftung, August-November 1956, p. 88, no. 546.
Museum Saarbrücken and Karlsruhe, Prinz-Max-Palais, Paul Klee: Wachstum regt sich, Klees Zweisprache mit der Natur, March-August 1990, pp. 157 and 258, no. 89 (illustrated in color, p. 157).
Berlin, Neue Nationalgalerie, Das Universum Klee, October 2008-February 2009, p. 211, no. 117 (illustrated in color).

Brought to you by

Emily Kaplan
Emily Kaplan Senior Vice President, Senior Specialist, Co-Head of 20th Century Evening Sale

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 channeled into a 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 molds 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. 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 1926, Exotischer Garten offers a colorful illustration of Klee’s ideas, as he explored the unseen patterns, tensions and rhythms that underpin the natural world. His passion for plants had been fostered from an early age by his parent’s colorful and extensive garden, and he proved extremely sensitive to the timbre of various landscapes, often documenting his response to different terrains in his diary. Over the years he assembled a diverse collection of botanical materials, which served as visual aids in his studies on form and included various flora, stones, shells, butterflies and sea urchins, which he had gathered on his many wanderings through the countryside. Together, these organic objects fueled his interest in the processes of growth, change, metamorphosis, and regeneration, while also providing him with models from which he could build his at times fantastical imagery.
In Exotischer Garten the picture plane is divided into a series of carefully delineated, rippling horizontal bands of color, from which the plants spring upwards and outwards in a contrasting network of flowing lines. As the title indicates, the artist was drawn to the unusual, exotic plant-life that blossoms within this scene, which resembles a grove of flowering cacti, and may have been inspired by Klee’s memories of a similar garden that he had discovered on one of his seminal trips to North Africa a decade prior. Here, the rippling lines pictorially suggest an inherent connection and harmony that courses through the landscape, tying all aspects of nature together with an assured regularity, despite the vast differences in form that marked the various types of vegetation.
At this time Klee was entering his fifth year as a professor at the Bauhaus, the revolutionary art school which had begun in Weimar, before relocating to Dessau in the mid-1920s. During his tenure, he had diligently developed his teaching methods, consolidating his own personal experiences as an artist and clarifying the techniques he had previously adopted instinctively, in order to define and communicate the methodological and theoretical foundations of his art to his students. The increasing rationalization of design at the school following its move to Dessau appears to have directly influenced the tenor of Klee’s writing and teaching, as he began to link his analysis of the dynamic organic growth processes in leaves, blossoms and fruit with the development of geometric, elementary forms, a theme he would explore at length in his seminars on Planimetrische Gestaltung (planimetric construction). This shift in Klee’s approach to form can be felt in Exotischer Garten, where the regular linear rhythms and structuring of the scene suggest an underlying order and uniformity to the riotous growth and vitality of the garden.

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