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

Abend in Bol

Paul Klee (1879-1940)
Abend in Bol
signed 'Klee' (lower left); titled, dated and inscribed '1925 "J. null" Abend in Bol' (lower centre) on the artist's mount
watercolour and pencil on paper laid down on the artist's original mount
Subject: 10.1/8 x 9.5/8in. (25.8 x 24.5cm.)
Mount: 11¾ x 10¾ in. (29.8 x 27.5cm.)
Executed in 1925
Otto Ralfs, Braunschweig.
R. Heinrich Stinnes, Cologne, 1925.
Anon. Sale, Gutekunst & Klipstein, Bern, Sammlung Heinrich Stinnes, 20-22 June 1938, lot 529.
Curt Valentin Gallery, New York (no. 1197).
Israel Ber Neumann, Berlin/New York.
Clifford Odets, Beverly Hills.
G. David Thompson, Pittsburgh.
Galerie Beyeler, Basel.
W. Grohmann, Paul Klee, Geneva/Stuttgart 1954, p. 191.
New York, Buchholz Gallery Curt Valentin, Paul Klee, 1-26 November 1938, no. 15.
Cincinnati, Cincinnati Art Museum, Paintings by Paul Klee and Mobiles and Stabiles by Alexander Calder, 7 April-3 May 1942.
New York, Buchholz Gallery Curt Valentin, The Blue Four. Feininger Jawlensky Kandinsky Paul Klee, 31 October-25 November 1944, no. 49.

Lot Essay

Recorded under number 1925/180 in the artist's Werkkatalog at the Paul Klee Stiftung, Bern, Abend in Bol is one of Klee's most delicate paysages surréalistes. The artist's traditional lexicon of pure geometrical shapes traces an abstract, surreal borgo, perched on the top of a desert mountainscape. Reminiscences of the artist's earlier depictions of the Tunisian desert are stylistically and thematically dominant. The Orientalist landscape of Klee's pictorial beginnings became in the 1920s a formal archetype, re-emerging in the artist's subconscious under the stimulus of a Surrealist jeu d'associations. As W. Grohmann observed, 'Even in these magical pictures Klee proceeds methodically. Like a musician he sets note next to note, develops, particularizes, deepens, visualizes independently of outer reality, until the final form emerges. In this process one or another of his "dimensions" comes to the fore - the tonal value or the colour of the rhythm, the harmony of the counterpoint. A pictorial order results which is an analogue of nature. The distribution of color is such that cold hues press from the periphery against warm, bright ones in the center (transition from blue to red through green and brown, from the larger to the smaller form); or the balance between major and minor keys may produce an effect of inner poise... In some of these compositions the sublime lies at a great depth, in others it is contained within the logic of the surface structure' (Paul Klee, Stuttgart, 1954, p. 215).
The Surrealist atmosphere of Abend in Bol is certainly related to Klee's proximity to Breton's group, with which he was in close contact since its creation in 1924. In 1925 - the year when this watercolour was painted - Klee participated in the first Exposition du Surréalisme, at the Parisian Galerie Pierre.

Abend in Bol has a very distinguished provenance, having been part of two of the most prestigious collections of works on paper of this century, belonging both to Heinrich Stinnes (fig. 1), in the 1920s, and thereafter to G. David Thompson - one of the most important collectors of Klee's oeuvre in the 1950s. It was his collection which formed the basis of the Klee Collection in the Dsseldorf Kunsthalle.


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