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Paul Klee (1879-1940)
The James and Marilynn Alsdorf Collection
Paul Klee (1879-1940)

Garten im Orient

Details
Paul Klee (1879-1940)
Garten im Orient
signed 'Klee' (lower right); titled, dated and numbered '1937 S. 7 Garten im Orient' (on the artist's mount)
pastel on cotton cloth mounted by the artist on card
Image size: 14 x 11 in. (35.5 x 28 cm.)
Mount size: 15 ¼ x 12 in. (38.8 x 30.5 cm.)
Executed in 1937
Provenance
Lily Klee, Bern (by descent from the artist).
Klee-Gesellschaft, Bern (acquired from the above, 1946 and until 1948).
Buchholz Gallery (Curt Valentin), Berlin and New York (by 1948).
Frederick C. Schang, South Norwalk (possibly acquired from the above, by 1951 and until at least 1960).
E.V. Thaw & Co., New York (acquired from the above).
Acquired from the above by the late owners, 18 November 1964.
Literature
V. Hugo, "Le verger de Paul Klee" in Cahiers d'Art, 1945-1946, nos. 20-21, p. 65 (illustrated).
H. Devree, "The Magic of Klee" in The New York Times, 7 May 1950 (illustrated).
F.C. Schang, Paul Klee, Collection of F.C. Schang, South Norwalk, 1952, no. 38.
F.C. Schang, Paul Klee, Collection of F.C. Schang, South Norwalk, 1953, no. 38.
W. Grohmann, Paul Klee, New York, 1954, pp. 404 and 419, nos. 163 and 371 (illustrated, p. 404).
F.C. Schang, Paul Klee, Collection of F.C. Schang, South Norwalk, 1955, no. 34.
G. di San Lazzaro, Klee: A Study of His Life and Work, London, 1957, p. 276 (illustrated, pl. 121).
F.C. Schang, Paul Klee, Collection of F.C. Schang, South Norwalk, 1957, no. 40.
F.C. Schang, Paul Klee, Collection of F.C. Schang, South Norwalk, 1959, no. 34.
M. Huggler, Paul Klee: Die Malerei als Blick in den Kosmos, Zürich, 1969, p. 170.
D. Chevalier, Klee, New York, 1971, p. 80 (illustrated in color, p. 81).
J. Glaesemer, Paul Klee: Die farbigen Werke im Kunstmuseum BernGema¨lde, farbige Bla¨tter, Hinterglasbilder und Plastiken, Bern, 1976, p. 324, note 29.
M. Henle, ed., Vision and Artifact, New York, 1976, pp. 132 and 145.
J. Smith Pierce, Paul Klee and Primitive Art, New York, 1976, pp. 51 and 166, note 62.
G. Monnier, Le Pastel, Geneva, 1983, p. 87 (illustrated in color, p. 86).
A. Bonfand, Paul Klee, l'oeil en trop, Paris, 1988, pp. 100-102 (illustrated in color, pl. 49).
The Paul Klee Foundation, ed., Paul Klee: Catalogue Raisonné 1934-1938, Bern, 2003, vol. 7, p. 271, no. 7103 (illustrated).
Exhibited
London, National Gallery, Paul Klee, 1945, p. 8, no. 117.
New York, Buchholz Gallery (Curt Valentin), Paul Klee, May 1950, no. 32 (illustrated).
Palm Beach, Society of the Four Arts, Paintings by Paul Klee, March-April 1951, no. 60.
The Minneapolis Institute of Arts, 40 Works by Paul Klee from the Collection of F.C. Schang, June-August 1955, no. 34.
Boston, Museum of Fine Arts, European Masters of Our Time, 1957, p. 19, no. 57 (illustrated, pl. 115).
Waltham, Brandeis University, Paul Klee: A Loan Exhibition, May-June 1960, no. 33.
New York, The Museum of Modern Art; The Cleveland Museum of Art and Kunstmuseum Bern, Paul Klee, February 1987-January 1988, pp. 30 and 272 (illustrated in color, p. 272).
Hamm, Gustav-Lübcke-Museum and Museum der bildenden Künste Leipzig, Paul Klee: Reisen in den Süden, January-July 1997, pp. 105 and 238, no. 90 (illustrated in color on the cover; illustrated again in color, p. 203).

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Max Carter
Max Carter

Lot Essay

The bold, thick, graphic lines that define architectural contours and signify plant forms in Garten im Orient, while imparting structure to the flat patterning of sectioned colors that serves as their pictorial ground, are the key elements in a method that Paul Klee introduced during 1937 and became the salient characteristics of his Alterstil—an innovative late style.
This development emerged from a career-long dedication to drawing; the consummate, fine pen line of the Klee’s early and middle period draughtsmanship turned heavy, solid, and emphatic, imbuing his compositions with a sense of grandeur and monumentality that he had not previously sought in his work. The intimate fantasy and whimsy of Klee’s numerous garden-scapes during the late ‘teens and 1920s, brimming with lovingly rendered detail in their small formats, opened up into landscape vistas of memory and visionary impulse, revealing the lineaments of archetypes summoned forth from the depths of the inner self and writ large as potent, revelatory signs.
This metamorphosis of means was Klee’s brave response to a painful, existential ordeal. In 1935 he began to experience symptoms of a debilitating disease subsequently diagnosed as scleroderma, which resulted in his death in June 1940. During 1936 he created only a few pictures in his Bern studio. In 1937, however, his production astonishingly rebounded—he completed a total of 264 catalogued works in various media, his largest tally since he returned to his native Switzerland at the end of 1933 to flee Hitler’s rise to power in Germany.
An even larger sum, 489 pictures, followed in 1938. “Productivity is increasing in range and at a highly accelerated tempo,” Klee wrote to his son Felix on 29 December 1939. “I can no longer entirely keep up with these children of mine. They run away with me. There is a certain adaptation taking place, in that drawings predominate. Twelve hundred items in 1939 is really something of a record performance” (F. Klee, Paul Klee: His Life and Work in Documents, New York, 1962, p. 72).
“In Ascona I did pastel drawings to my heart’s delight,” Klee wrote his wife Lily on 27 November 1937 (ibid., p, 73). The Orient in Klee’s title refers not to the Far East, but evokes the “orientalist” fantasy of North African and Levantine subjects that Delacroix and other European painters, including Matisse, had treated since the 1830s. Klee had undertaken in 1914 a momentous journey to Tunisia, where he experienced an epiphany that transformed his art. “Color possesses me,” he wrote in his diary on 16 April. “Color and I are one. I am a painter.”
In Tunis Klee visited “superb gardens…a path with cactuses just like the ‘hohle Gasse’ [in Immensee, back home]” (F. Klee, ed., The Diaries of Paul Klee, Berkeley, 1964, pp. 293 and 297). The horseshoe arches likely allude to the grand Mosque of Uqba in Kairouan. Trips to Sicily, Corsica, and Egypt during the late 1920s rekindled Klee’s interest in Mediterranean cultures, for years afterwards yielding—in glowing chroma—pictures that are timelessly mythic in their scope and import.

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