Gera, Geraer Kunstverein, Städtisches Museum, Paul Klee, Aquarelle, 1925-26, no. 44
Following Walter Gropius's invitation, Paul Klee began teaching at the Bauhaus in Weimar in 1921, moving to Dessau five years later. The time spent working at the progressive art school, during which time the present work was executed, proved to be the most innovative and fruitful of his artistic career. It was an intensely stimulating and inspiring environment for Klee and his prolific output in these years is testament to his inexhaustible appetite for creativity. Vorfrühling in H is a stunning example of the subtle experiments with form and colour that dominated his artistic practice. The work depicts a garden; indeed nature, and man's relationship with it, was arguably the artist's most important theme. In 1923, Klee himself pronounced that, 'For the artist, dialogue with nature remains a conditio sine qua non. The artist is a man, himself nature and a part of nature in natural space' (Paul Klee, 'Ways of Studying Nature', in Jurg Spiller (ed.), Paul Klee: The Thinking Eye. The Notebooks of Paul Klee, London & New York, 1961, pp. 63-67).
The world of plants, animals, and gardens was a great source of artistic inspiration for the artist, and though he was extremely knowledgeable about botany, his depictions were the antithesis of static academic studies. Klee drew upon the natural world to explore ideas of growth and fluctuation, often comparing the growth of plants and natural phenomena with the genesis of an artwork. The fact that the present work is a depiction of not just a garden, but a garden in springtime, takes on a greater significance when considered in the context of the artist's artistic obsession with theme of growth and flux.
Vorfrühling in H vascillates between figuration and abstraction, the recognisable forms of the house, stairs, and trees dissolving into the more abstract hatch-working that forms the organic foliage of the space around them. As with all of Klee's most successful works, the forms are in constant dialogue with each other, vibrating and giving the image the artist's distinctive and subtle energy. In the present work, Klee has created a patchwork of different colours and techniques; the jewel-like palette is complemented by the artist's inventive working of the surface. It is a delightful work, where Klee's presence is strongly felt and indeed it features many of his most celebrated elements and themes.
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