Painted in 1932, Stadtburg Kr. is a magnificent example of Klee's ability to blend architectural elements and geometric forms into a fantastic, dream-like composition. Following the architect Walter Gropius's invitation to teach at the Bauhaus in October 1920, the artist moved to Weimar, and the subsequent years were to be the most innovative and productive of his career. Inspired by the Bauhaus belief in constructivist art, Klee's work became increasingly abstract and geometricised. The present work was executed shortly after he left the Bauhaus and moved to Düsseldorf, where he accepted a teaching post at the Staatliche Kunstakademie. During this time (1931-33), Klee introduced a pointillist technique in his watercolours and oils, such as Ad Parnassum (fig. 1). The present work, however, is a rare example where he replaced dots with small rectangular forms, combining them in a wonderfully poetic fashion.
Architecture had been an important source of inspiration for the artist since the early days of his career. 'Everywhere I see only architecture, linear rhythms, planar rhythms', he wrote in his diary as early as 1902. This sense of rhythm and movement is beautifully rendered in the present work. While Klee based the composition on a vertical and horizontal grid, he created a wonderfully dynamic, pulsating image, rather than a rigid, strictly geometric one. According to Klee's own analysis, he tried 'to achieve the greatest possible movement with the least possible means (economy of means obtained by repetition of a limited number of simple structural characteristics)' (quoted in J. Spiller (ed.), op. cit., p. 234).
Christina Thomson wrote that Klee's 'architectural and urbanistic forms permeate his entire oeuvre, at both a structural-theoretical level and with respect to motif. Klee gives his architecture countless faces. He represents it in cities, villages, and houses; he piles it up into palaces, temples, and castles, concentrates it into urban bundles, blends it with natural landscapes, transforms it into a stage, lets it withdraw into interior spaces, and dissects it into individual parts. [...] Klee causes real architectural forms to collide with invented or symbolic elements, mixing the familiar with the visionary and space with dream. The result is fantastical cities, castles in the air, and dream worlds that fuse into a singularly dynamic architectural cosmos: nothing is rigid and purely geometric; everything pulsates, swells, follows, hovers, or glows' (C. Thomson in The Klee Universe (exhibition catalogue), Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin, 2008, p. 231).
The first owner of Stadtburg Kr. was Richard Doetsch-Benziger, a major early collector of Klee's art. Doetsch-Benziger first started collecting books and from 1912 turned to Modern paintings, drawings and sculpture, mainly focusing on smaller scale works and eventually amassing an impressive collection that included works by artists ranging from Renoir, Maillol and Bonnard to Cubist works by Picasso, Braque and Gris, as well as by modern German masters such as Nolde, Campendonk, Jawlensky, Kandinsky and Feininger. His biggest passion, however, was for works by Paul Klee, which probably attracted him for their small scale, richness of technique and association with illuminated manuscripts. The first exhibition of Richard Doetsch-Benziger's collection was held at the Kunstmuseum in Basel, where the present work was included. A number of works from his collection were later donated to this museum.
Fig. 1, Paul Klee, Ad Parnassum, 1932, oil on canvas, Kunstmuseum, Bern
Please call 1-800-555-5555 to order a print catalog for this sale.
Online Registration to Bid is Closed for this Sale. Would you like to watch the live sale?Watch Live Sale