Watercolor on paper laid down on the artist's board
H. Erfurth, Dresden
Heinz Berggruen, Paris
Acquired from the above in the 1950s and thence by descent
Gera, Geraer Kunstverein, Städtisches Museum, Paul Klee. Aquarelle, 1925-26, no. 35
Dresden, Sächsischer Kunstverein, Neuere Kunstwerke aus Dresdner Privatbesitz. 3. Jubiläumsausstellung, 1929, no. 117
Washington, D.C., National Gallery of Art, The Morton G. Neumann Family Collection, 1980, no. 70
Will Grohmann, Paul Klee, Stuttgart, 1954, illustrated p. 182
Will Grohmann, Paul Klee, New York, 1955, no. 60, illustrated p. 391
Paul Klee Stiftung (ed.), Paul Klee Catalogue Raisonné, vol. 4, Bern, 2000, no. 3863, illustrated p. 371
Throughout the 1920s, Klee’s work was dominated by the theme of gardens and nature, yet Herbstblumen Stilleben is a rare example of a still-life of flowers in a vase. The artist’s son Felix Klee described his father’s favorite outing to Wörlitz near eassau, which inspired his depictions of plants and flowers: it was “…surrounded by an enchanting park full of lakes and watercourses that made the visitor forget the monotony of the surrounding Elbe flatlands. We strolled past Aeolian harps and exotic giant trees, across rickety footbridges, and took the ferries to the islands. Here Paul Klee was thoroughly in his element, and many of his pictures with plant or water subjects were the outcome of visits to this wonderful park” (Felix Klee, quoted in Roland Doschka, Paul Klee, Munich, 2001, p. 210).
The composition of the present work is built of geometric forms, painted and hatched in a range of autumnal colors, and by combining the flat, monochromatic planes with the hatching technique, the artist has created a dynamic and lively composition. Klee, who at the invitation of the architect Walter Gropius joined the Bauhaus school in Weimar in 1921, did not, however, adopt a rigidly constructivist, utilitarian style close to other Bauhaus members. Retaining the poetic manner of his earlier work, Klee created a utopian, fantastic world in response to the destruction caused by World War One. The years spent in Weimar, and later in Dessau, were the most innovative and productive of his career, and Herbstblumen Stilleben is a magnificent example of this new direction in his art, combining the increasingly abstract, geometric style with the poetic quality always present in his work.
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