Lot 2
  • 2

Paul Klee

500,000 - 700,000 GBP
1,325,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Paul Klee
  • Raumfahrt (Journey in Space)
  • signed Klee (upper left); titled and dated 1929.C.2. on the artist's mount
  • watercolour on paper with gouache laid down on the artist's mount


Rudolf Probst (Galerie Neue Kunst Fides; Das Kunsthaus), Dresden & Mannheim (until 1930)

Otto Ralfs, Braunschweig (acquired in 1930)

Fritz Trüssel, Bern (acquired in 1931)

Sale: Galerie Kornfeld, Bern, 19th June 1980, lot 687

Private Collection, Switzerland (purchased at the above sale)

Thence by descent to the present owner


Bern, Kunsthalle, Paul Klee, Walter Helbig, M. de Vlaminck, Philipp Bauknecht, Arnold Huggler, 1931, no. 75


The Paul Klee Foundation (ed.), Paul Klee, Catalogue Raisonné, London, 2001, vol. 5, no. 4878, illustrated p. 333

Catalogue Note

Following the architect Walter Gropius’s invitation to teach at the Bauhaus, Klee moved to Weimar in 1921, and to Dessau five years later, and the time spent working and teaching there was 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, and Raumfahrt is a magnificent example of this new direction, coupled with the poetic quality always present in his work. Klee combined geometric and irregular, undulating shapes to create a mysterious composition dominated by forms that evoke both a spaceship and bird-like creatures. The dark, monochrome background suggests the cosmic surroundings referred to in the title, while the curtain-like form framing the scene on the right and along the top creates a sense of observing the scene through a window.

Verging between abstraction and figuration, Klee’s delicately drawn lines create a rhythmic, poetic pattern combining rectangular and trapezoid forms of the spaceship with circular and elliptical shapes evocative of stars and planets. The use of bright colours harmoniously juxtaposed in mosaic-like planes reflects the block-like squares with which he had previously depicted the architecture of North Africa, and heralds a new tendency towards abstraction. Klee visited Egypt in 1928, the year before he created the present composition, and although it impressed him less than Tunisia, the translucent quality of the watercolour in his subsequent work, including Raumfahrt, reflects the influence of the light that he witnessed in Egypt.

For several decades this work was in the collection of the lawyer Dr Fritz Trüssel, a close friend of the Klee family. Trüssel had an important collection of French art from the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, as well as a number of works by Klee and other Swiss artists. After his death the collection was divided between his daughters, and Raumfahrt was sold at auction in Bern in 1980, where it was acquired by the family of the present owner.