In 1937 Klee recovered from a debilitating illness and other personal crises and plunged into his work. In that year his Oeuvrekatalog lists 264 works. In 1938 he painted 489 works, and in 1939, the final full year of his life, he created an astonishing 1,253 pictures. During this period his style underwent a profound transformation, resulting in works that were to constitute his most significant stylistic legacy for suceeding generations of artists.
Most importantly, Klee transformed line as an element of drawing into a painterly means. This was achieved by boldly drawing with his brush and thickening his line into flat, open strokes that structure his compositions, and control the modulation of color on the picture surface.
"Klee finally possessed a line of real stability, assertion, and power. It endowed his art with a monumentality it had never known before and with a new level of linear content. From the universal, broad, rough brushline of children's art Klee had forged an artistic took of genuine force. In his final three years he achieved what he had not been able to achieve in three decades, raising the poetry of his line from the intimate and personal to the universal, from pure subjectivity to powerful form" (A. Kagan, Paul Klee/Art & Music, Ithaca, New York, 1983, p. 131).
Tritt Herab ("Stepping Down") embodies these essential elements of Klee's late style. Klee's spontaneously and emphatically applied strokes of black paint establish the composition, forming rough boundaries for his colors, and defines his subject. This increasingly abstract and expressionist manner, while still allied to primitive, representational subject matter, had a significant impact on postwar abstraction, influencing artists such as Bazaine, Bissire, and Soulages in France, Winter and Nay in Germany, and Kline, Gottlieb and Rothko in the United States.