FROM GOYA TO PICASSO: WORKS FROM THE PRIVATE COLLECTION OF JAN KRUGIER
Plants, animals, and gardens were 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. Indeed Klee’s depictions of nature take on a greater significance when considered in the context of the artist's artistic obsession with ideas concerning transformation and flux.
Dunkelbuntes Gartenbild is a wonderfully dynamic, vibrantly coloured work teetering on
the threshold of figuration and abstraction, evoking some of the qualities of the richly decorative and organic surfaces that Matisse had painted a decade earlier in Intérieur aux aubergines, 1911. The pulsating foliage of the garden taking on an intense and otherworldly feel when rendered against the black background, and, 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. It is a delightful work, where Klee’s presence is strongly felt and indeed it features many of his most celebrated elements and themes. The organic composition is made up of bold patches of colour combined with more delicate hatch work and small dots, evoking the innately complex variation of the natural world. The artist’s son Felix Klee described his father’s favourite outing to Wörlitz near Dessau, which inspired his depictions of plants and gardens: 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 natural world of flora and fauna was a central theme in Klee's work, and never more so than in 1923, when Klee published an essay 'Approaches to the Study of Nature' in the publication Staatliches Bauhaus-Weimar 1919-1923. Black backgrounds were a particular feature of the works of 1923 and the present work has close affinities with Landschaft mit gelben Vögeln (Landscape with Yellow Birds) of the same year.
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