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

West-Östliche Flora

Paul Klee (1879-1940)
West-Östliche Flora
signed 'Klee' (lower right), signed, dated, titled and numbered 'Paul Klee West-Östliche Flora 1921' (on the artist's original mount); signed and titled 'Pual Klee West-Östliche Flora' (on the old back board)
watercolour on paper laid down on the artist's mount
image: 9 3/8 x 12½in. (23.8 x 31.4cm.)
artist's mount: 12½ x 15½in. (31.7 x 39.5cm.)
Executed in 1921
Galerie Neue Kunst Hans Goltz, Munich.RP.G. van Hecke-Norine, Brussels.
Victor Servranckx, Brussels.
Roman Norbert Ketterer, Campione.
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 1976.
Ed. The Paul Klee Foundation, Museum of Fine Arts, Berne, Paul Klee: Catalogue Raisonné, Vol. III, 1921-1922, London, 1999, no. 2675 (illus. p.311).
Munich, Neue Münchner Secession. 7. Ausst., Aug.-Sept., 1921, no. 124.
Anvers,Art Contemporain, 1929, no. 155.
Brussels, Palais des Beaux Arts, Exposition L'Art vivant en Europe, 1931. S'Gravenhage, Dienst voor schone Kunsten, Hommage a James Ensor, 1949. Ostende, Gloires de la peinture moderne. Hommage à James Ensor, 1949, no. 78.
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Lot Essay

Painted in 1921, West-östliche Flora ('West-Eastern Flora') is a rhythmic synthesis of Klee's ideas not only on Nature, but also on painting itself. In January that year Klee joined the Bauhaus Weimar, having been invited the year before. The move from Munich brought a few small regrets to Klee, as he loved the city, but Weimar had vast advantages for him: a steady income, a great forum to discuss his ideas, and perhaps most importantly a large studio for his own use. His teaching responsibilities at the Bauhaus only occupied a small number of hours per week, and that only after some months of adjustment. It was thus an incredibly important moment in his career, a chance for him to devote himself to the development of his art.

West-östliche Flora is the product of several aspects of Klee's life and thought. It shows his deep appreciation and knowledge of nature and botany in particular, as well as explorations of colour theory and form. Regarding the former, the dark background implies that this is a nocturnal view. Klee's depictions of night-growth are different from his daylight versions - the plants are not green and do not stretch for the sky in the same way. The choice of colour is dictated by a mixture of botanical expertise and artistic colour theory. The radiating violets imply growth and rhythm as well as the darkness of night-flowers. Despite the dark, Klee has managed to make the flowers in West-östliche Flora glow, translating their intense life-energy to the viewer. Klee has depicted the growth of these flowers through the gradations expanding around the seed of each plant, reflecting also his theories on inspiration and artistic creation.

'Since we did not find a place to live in Weimar, my father temporarily divided his time between Munich and Weimar, spending two weeks in one place and two weeks in the other. A year later, in October 1921 we moved out of the metropolis of Munich to the highly individual small town so rich in tradition in the heart of Thuringia. we found a spacious 4-room apartment above Goethe park, in the house belonging to Count Keyserling. each day we walked through the park to the Bauhaus...At every season of the year, Klee made the walk fascinating with his observations... In the spring my father would tell me the names of all the flowers we saw' (Felix Klee, quoted in R. Doschka, Paul Klee, Munich, 2001, p. 208).


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