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

Treuer Hund

Paul Klee (1879-1940)
Klee, P.
Treuer Hund
signed 'Klee' (upper left), inscribed with title, dated and numbered '1930 Y7 treuer Hund' (on the mount)
watercolor and black ink transfer on paper mounted by the artist on board
Sheet size: 12.3/8 x 8.3/8 in. (31.4 x 21.3 cm.)
Mount size: 17 x 12.5/8 in. (45 x 32 cm.)
Painted in 1930
Richard Doetsch-Benzinger, Basel (by 1958).
Anon. sale, Kornfeld et Cie., Bern, 13 June 1974, lot 502.
Berggruen et Cie., Paris (1974-1979).
Serge Sabarsky Gallery, New York.
Saul P. Steinberg, New York (acquired from the above, 1979); sale, Christie's, New York, 19 May 1981, lot 148.
Anon. sale, Sotheby's, New York, 17 November 1983, lot 347.
Acquired at the above sale by the late owner.
Artist's Handlist, no. 147Y7.
W. Grohmann, Paul Klee, Handzeichnungen II, Berlin, 1934, p. 37, no. 54.
Kunsthalle Bern, Paul Klee, Walter Helbig, Maurice de Vlaminck, Phillipp Bauknecht, Arnold Huggler, January-February 1931, no. 36.
New York, Serge Sabarsky Gallery, Paul Klee--The Late Years, fall 1977, no. 4 (illustrated in color).
Sale room notice
A photo-certificate from Dr. Josef Helfenstein and Dr. Michael Baumgartner of the Paul Klee-Stiftung, Bern dated 26 October 1999 accompanies this work.

Lot Essay

The Paul-Klee-Stiftung has confirmed the authenticity of this watercolor.

Klee joined the teaching staff of the Weimar Bauhaus in 1920 where the exchange of ideas there encouraged a constructivist tendency in his painting. Klee applied his characteristic inner vision and love of fanciful imaginary subject matter, which he articulated through his drawing. It was especially the latter that fascinated Surrealist writers Aragon, Eluard and Breton, and the painters Mir and Masson, although it was not until 1925 that they would see a full-scale exhibition of Klee's work in Paris.

In all these pictures, it is the drawing that bears
the heaviest burden of meaning and first exacts the
empathy of the viewer. Fully developed paintings, both
for Klee and for the Surrealist 'automatists', depended on
the invention of a color technique that would host and enhance
an independent graphic poetry. Such a technique did not need
to involve a truly automatic application of color. Rather,
it simply demanded a mobile field compatible with a dynamic
line and pictorialization of the process of time that governed
'automatic' creation (A. Temkin, "Klee and the Avant-Garde 1912-1940", in Paul Klee, exh. cat., The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1987, pp. 24-25).

The oil transfer technique, which Klee often used during this period, as in the present work, facilitated this process. The artist applied a sheet wet with thinned paint against the sheet on which he was drawing, and by drawing on the reverse he transferred a grainy, broken line to the picture surface. He then applied pigment in order to form a color-ground for the composition.

This process comprised repeated layers of glazing, each
of which had to dry before the next was applied. Ultimately,
the subtle chromatic gradations and their varying opacities
lead the eye to circulate through space in a manner exactly
counter to the directed gaze encouraged by the perspectival
devices of naturalistic pictorial space. The random spots and
smudges born of the initial transfer of the drawing reinforce
the aura of decentralization. As a result, the drawing seems
to emerge from the surrounding space despite the fact that it
actually was applied beforehand (ibid., p. 25).

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