Emerging from the shadows of dark blue paint, an array of objects figures at the heart of Paul Klee’s Stilleben, plucked from the depths of the artist’s imagination. Executed against a backdrop of deep, textured pigments, the objects appear as if from thin-air, not placed on a table as would be the case in a traditional still-life, but, rather, floating unsupported in the mysterious void. The forms are delineated using sinuous lines which, combined with the deep blue background and shadows, deepens the mysterious nature of the scene, lending it a supernatural air. It is this mystery, this hidden, unresolved story, which forms the foundation of the artist’s approach to creation at this time, and which lends Klee’s art its intense power.
Executed in 1924, the present work emerged at a time of unrivalled professional success for Klee. In 1920, the artist had been invited by Walter Gropius to join the faculty at his progressive artistic school, the Bauhaus, offering the artist the position of Master of Form in the book-binding workshop. Klee quickly immersed himself in life at the school, and was swiftly appointed to further roles in the glass-painting studio and on the school’s revolutionary foundation course. The artist spent the opening years of his tenure at the Bauhaus diligently developing his teaching methods, consolidating his own personal experiences as an artist and clarifying the techniques he had previously adopted instinctively, in order to define and communicate the methodological and theoretical foundations of his art to his students. Notwithstanding this, works such as Stilleben reveal the continued importance of instinct in Klee’s creative process, as chance, spontaneity and romanticism remained central to his own artistic vision.