Lot 458: Paul Klee (1879-1940)

Christie's

November 7, 2001, 12:00 AM EST
New York, NY, US
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Description: Topf-Formen, transparent signed 'Klee' (center right); dated, numbered and titled '1921/95 Topf-Formen, transparent' (on the artist's mount) watercolor on paper laid down by the artist on board Sheet size: 9 x 71/2 in. (22.7 x 19 cm.) Mount size: 12 1/8 x 10 in. (30.8 x 25.4 cm.) Painted in 1921 PROVENANCE Kunsthaus (Herbert Tannenbaum), Mannheim. Acquired from the above by the family of the present owner, 1924. LITERATURE J. Glaesemer, Paul Klee, Diefarbigen Werke in Kunstmuseum Bern, Gem„lde, farbige Bl„tter, Hinterglasbilder und Plastiken, Bern, 1976, p. 168, footnote 72. P. L. Kort, The Ugly Face of Beauty: Paul Klee's Images of Aphrodite, Dis., University of California, Los Angeles, 1994, p. 103 (illustrated). W. Kersten and O. Okuda, Paul Klee: Im Zeichen der Teilung, exh. cat., Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Dsseldorf, 1995 (illustrated, p. 346). The Paul Klee Foundation, ed., Paul Klee: Catalogue raisonn‚, Bern, 1999, vol. 3, p. 315, no. 2686 (illustrated). EXHIBITION Toronto, Canadian National Exhibition, Art Through the Ages, August-September 1961. NOTES On 20 November 1920 the architect Walter Gropius sent Klee, who was living in Munich, a telegram inviting him to join the teaching staff of the newly-formed Bauhaus in Weimar. Klee quickly accepted, and arrived in the capital of the new German republic in January 1921. His family followed in September. For the first time Klee had access to a large studio. More importantly, the cross-fertilization of artistic ideas and disciplines which was the core of the Bauhaus concept enriched Klee's approaches to painting. While music was not part of the Bauhaus curriculum, the importance of the school and its artists attracted major composers such as Ferruccio Busoni, Paul Hindemith and Igor Stravinsky, whose music featured in concerts held in conjunction with Bauhaus activities. Klee was an avid amateur violinist who enjoyed playing the chamber music of Bach and Mozart with his wife Lily and their friends. Klee directly alludes to music in such humorous works as Hoffmanneske Geschichte (Tale … la Hoffmann) of 1921, and Das Vocaltuch der Kammers„ngerin Rosa Silber (The Voice-Cloth of the Singer Rosa Silber) from 1922. The idea of music as a constructive metaphor for the visual process is revealed in a more profound manner in other works of this period. The actual subjects of the present work Topf-Formen, transparent (Pot shape, transparent) and the related Transparente Lagerung von Vasen (Transparent Layering of Vases; Stiftung, no. 2687) are rather ordinary. However, the musical resonances in Klee's pictorial style together with a heightened sense of abstract architecture transform this prosaic subject into a formal statement which completely transcends its humble origin. The repetition of forms parallels the use of counterpoint and fugue in baroque and classical music. The color contrasts, with their gradations and jumps in tone, are pictorial metaphors for tonal modulation and the use of instrumental color within a musical composition.
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