The title recorded in Paul Klee's handbook, Kleines Haus unter unfertigen großen, neuer Klang, indicates that subject of this watercolour is both the figurative one of a small house under a bigger, unfinished one, but of equal importance is the subject of 'neuer Klang', or 'new sound' indicated by the slanting black and red streaks of watercolour that surround the houses. This is the first recorded work in the artist's oeuvre to represent sound, noise or music, a theme that Klee would continue to develop throughout his life. In addition to the influences of Cubism and the colour theories of Robert Delaunay with which the artist was experimenting, the work is an example of Klee's absorption and development of the notion of 'simultaneity', the simultaneous representation of an entire sensory experience - what is seen, heard, sensed and imagined - on a canvas, sheet of paper or in a sculpture.
The development of this pictorial theory reflects the influence of Italian Futurism on the artist. Several prominent modern art galleries existed or had recently been established in Munich, where Klee had been living since 1906, and the city boasted an impressive and international calendar of exhibitions in which Klee actively attended or participated. Of particular significance to the artist at the time was an exhibition of the Italian Futurists which took place at Thannhauser's gallery at the end of 1912, some short months before the execution of the present watercolour. In Klee's opinion at the time, they 'stimulated us with their great talent...Carrá, Boccioni and Severini are good, very good' (in The Diaries of Paul Klee, 1898-1918, tr. F. Klee, Los Angeles, 1964, p. 275).
In addition to the visual stimulation he experienced, Kleines Haus unter unfertigen großen, neuer Klang represents Klee's almost literal interpretation of the theory enunciated in the Futurist Manifesto, which the artist had read by this time: 'for instance, it says in the Manifesto: "When one opens a window, all the noise of the street, the motions and the substance of things suddenly invade the room"' (in The Diaries of Paul Klee, 1898-1918, tr. F. Klee, Los Angeles, 1964, p. 275).