PAUL KLEE (1879-1940)
PAUL KLEE (1879-1940)
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This lot has been imported from outside of the UK … Read more PROPERTY FROM A NOTABLE PRIVATE COLLECTION
PAUL KLEE (1879-1940)

Strenge Gebirgsform (Kristallines Gebirge)

PAUL KLEE (1879-1940)
Strenge Gebirgsform (Kristallines Gebirge)
signed 'Klee' (upper right); dated, numbered and inscribed '1924 242 Strenge Gebirgsform Kristallines Gebirge' (on the artist's mount)
gouache and watercolour on paper laid down on the artist's mount
sheet: 9 1/4 x 15 in. (23.6 x 38.1 cm.)
artist's mount: 12 1/2 x 18 5/8 in. (31.8 x 47.3 cm.)
Executed in 1924
Rudolf Probst [Galerie Neue Kunst Fides & Das Kunsthaus], Dresden & Mannheim, on consignment from the artist, by 1929.
Alfred Flechtheim, Dusseldorf, Berlin, Paris & London, on consignment from the artist, by March 1930.
Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler, Paris.
Israel Ber Neumann [Graphisches Kabinett, New Art Circle, Neumann Gallery], Berlin & New York, by 1938.
Karl Nierendorf, Cologne, Berlin & New York, by 1938.
Serge Sabarsky, New York.
Andrew Pecorini, Forest Hills, New York.
Aldis Browne Fine Arts, New York, by whom probably acquired from the above in 1974.
Berggruen & Cie, Paris, by whom acquired from the above in 1978.
Paul Haim & Co., Paris, by 1978.
Fuji Television Gallery, Tokyo, by 1978.
Private collection.
Acquired in 1990; sale, Christie's, New York, 16 May 2017, lot 137.
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.
S. Wada, Paul Klee and His Travels, Tokyo, 1980, no. 110, p. 45 (illustrated).
The Paul Klee Foundation, ed., Paul Klee, Catalogue Raisonné, vol. 4, 1923-1926, Bonn, 2000, no. 3614, p. 259 (illustrated).
Dresden, Galerie Neue Kunst Fides, Paul Klee, Aquarelle aus den Jahren 1920-1929, February - March 1930, no. 21, n.p..
Tokyo, Fuji Television Gallery, Paul Klee, September - October 1978, no. 13, n.p. (illustrated).
Chiba, Kawamura Memorial Museum of Art, Paul Klee, Erzählung und Schöpfung, June - August 2006, no. 67, p. 86 (illustrated); this exhibition later travelled to Sapporo, Hokkaido Museum of Modern Art, August - October 2006; and Miyagi, Museum of Art, October - December 2006.
Special notice
This lot has been imported from outside of the UK for sale and placed under the Temporary Admission regime. Import VAT is payable at 5% on the hammer price. VAT at 20% will be added to the buyer’s premium but will not be shown separately on our invoice.

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Imogen Kerr Vice President, Senior Specialist, Co-head of 20th Century Evening Sale

Lot Essay

Klee’s famous travels to the lands of Tunisia and Egypt have been frequently cited, due to the tremendous impact they had on the artist’s development. Nonetheless, there is another trip that is considered crucial to the artist’s development and an undeniable source of inspiration for his work: Italy, and in particular, the island of Sicily. Referencing the impact this land had on him, Klee wrote to his wife Lily in Munich in December 1924: ‘I experience nothing, don't even want to. I carry the mountains and sun of Sicily within me. Everything else is dull’ (P. Klee quoted in P. Valenti, 'Paul Klee's Journeys to Italy and Tunisia', Mediterranean Studies, vol. 15, Malta, 2006, p. 190).

Klee's connection with Italy ran deep: he had been in the country for the first time in 1914 while returning from Tunisia. The memories of the undulating hills, quaint architecture bathed in the golden sunlight, and charming clustered houses were memories that would bring him back several times.

The artist made a total of six visits to Italy during his lifetime. After gaining financial security, following his appointment as an instructor at the Bauhaus in 1921, he embarked on his first post-World War l expedition in 1924, accompanied by his beloved partner, Lily. For six awe-inspiring weeks, Klee and Lily roamed the picturesque Italian countryside, traversing the mesmerising cities of Genoa, Naples, and finally, the eastern shores of Sicily. The couple spent two weeks on the island between the idyllic beach of Mazzaró and the enchanting town of Taormina, before returning home via Rome and Milan.

Sicily played a pivotal role in shaping Klee’s artistic work. According to his son Felix, the initial inspiration for the artist’s ‘pointillist’ artworks, characterised by small squares of colour, can be traced back to his encounter with the mosaics in Ravenna. This profound experience was later reinforced by a visit to Sicily in 1931, where he explored the mosaics in Monreale and Palermo.

Each stroke of Klee’s brush encapsulates the unforgettable Sicilian escapade with Lily, with each work bearing a title reflecting the source of its inspiration. This exceptional work, one of a scarce group of around twenty-four pieces created by Klee in 1924, captures the essence of both nature and history, embodying the very spirit of the island that had inspired the artist. Entitled Strenge Gebirgsform, Kristallines Gebirge (Austere Mountain Shape, Crystalline Mountain), it portrays Mount Aetna beneath a serene blue-grey sky.

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