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Details
Paul Klee (1879-1940)
Festungsbau
signed 'Klee' (upper right); titled, dated and numbered 'Festungs-Bau 1921/49' (on the mount)
watercolor on joined paper laid down by the artist on board
Sheet size: 9 7/8 x 7 3/8 in. (24.5 x 18.8 cm.)
Mount size: 11 3/8 x 9½ in. (29 x 23.5 cm.)
Painted in 1921
Provenance
Klaus Gebhard, Wuppertal (to 1976).
Peter Carsten Lempelius, Munich (from 1976).
Wolfgang Wittrock Kunsthandel, Düsseldorf.
Johann Clemens Porer, Munich (to 1989).
Galerie Thomas, Munich (1989-1990).
Literature
W. Grohmann, Der Maler Paul Klee, Köln, 1966, p. 23.
W. Kersten, Paul Klee, Marburg, 1987, pp. 96 and 154.
The Paul Klee Foundation, ed., Paul Klee: Catalogue raisonné, Bern, 1999, vol. 3, p. 275, no. 2640 (illustrated).
Exhibited
Düsseldorf, Galerien Alfred Flechtheim, Paul Klee, June-July 1931, no. 136.
Hannover, Kestner-Gesellschaft, Paul Klee, May-June 1952, no. 40.
Düsseldorf, Wolfgang Wittrock Kunsthandel, Paul Klee, November-December 1977.
Munich, Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Paul Klee Das Frühwerk 1883-1922, December 1979-March 1980, no. 443.
Munich, Galerie Thomas, 25 Jahre danach, February-April 1990, no. 29 (illustrated in color).

Lot Essay

Klee joined the Weimar Bauhaus in January, 1921, and the interdisciplinary program of the school, with its strong emphasis on architecture and design, had a significant impact on Klee's work during the twenties. He investigated the spatial possibilities of the picture plane in new ways, while retaining the influences of Cubist structure and the color theories of Robert Delaunay's Orphist movement. He took an idiosyncratic approach to the rules of classical perspective and utilized architectural forms in numerous works during this period, while at the same time retaining his customary manner of constructing pictures, in which imagery is drawn on a vaguely empty space, or integrated within a complex structure of color planes.

The present work immediately precedes a series of four compositions (Klee Foundation, ed., op. cit., nos. 2641, 2642, 2646 and 2647), similarly constructed of rail fence-like planes, which were intended as abstract studies in perspective. The use of these partially open planes allows the artist to create an architectural sense of space that is maze-like and overlapping while remaining airily transparent. The final work in this series, Das Tor der Nacht (The Gate of the Night; Klee Foundation, no. 2647) also uses these fence-shapes as a kind of defensive barricade, which divides the space and establishes a protected zone within the picture.

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