Description: PROPERTY FROM A SWISS PRIVATE COLLECTION
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MÄRCHEN BÄUME (FAIRY-TALE TREES)
sheet size: 8 1/2 by 10 7/8 in. 21.6 by 27.6 cm
mount size: 13 3/4 by 17 in. 35 by 43.2 cm
Executed in 1935.
Signed Klee (lower left); also titled twice, dated 1935 and numbered II K20 on the artist's mount
Watercolor and brush and ink on paper attached to the artist's mount
Saarbrücken, Saarland Museum and Karlsruhe, Städtische Galerie im Prinz-Max-Palais, Paul Klee - Wachstum regt sich. Klees Zwiesprache mit der Natur, 1990, no. 152, illustrated in the catalogue
Paul Klee Foundation (ed.), Paul Klee Catalogue Raisonné 1934-1938, vol. 7, Bern, 2003, no. 6802, illustrated p. 164
Märchen-Bäume expounds Klee's preoccupation with tonality and color. For the artist, color belonged to a "cosmic realm," a world based on dynamics and temperature. In Klee's "fantastical trees," this idea is manifested in the play between warm and cool planes of color. The green, blue, and purple hues the artist used to depict the grove of trees contrast with the bright yellow and pink background, creating a tonal balance throughout the composition. At the same time, the trees are anchored to the ground by heavy black lines, emphasizing their earth-bound nature. This use of line reflects the graphic tendencies which formed the basis of Klee's aesthetic theory. As explained by Will Grohmann, "Starting from active and passive lines and planes he arrived at perspective and cloudlike spaces, dividual and individual structures, symbols such as arrows and letters and others of a higher order that hint at religious spheres" (Will Grohmann, Paul Klee, New York, 1970, p. 161).
Klee produced relatively few works during the mid-1930s. After teaching at the Bauhaus in both Weimar and Dessau, he settled in Switzerland in the winter of 1933 due to mounting political tension in Germany. For the next two years he focused on settling into his new home and organizing a large-scale exhibition sponsored by his new dealer, Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler. Märchen-Bäume, executed in 1935, reflects the aesthetic concerns which developed during the artist's Bauhaus years and continued throughout his career. As noted by David Burnett, "Klee's Bauhaus teaching was in a substantial way based on a view of nature as the great teacher of formal genesis through its patterns of growth, its movement in the change from one form to another, its freedom and variety gained by inalienable laws... He does not describe nature either in general or in detail, but invokes something of its structure: the relationship of individual actions and larger rhythms, and the contrasts of forms that arise, as in the drawing, from nature's basic principles of growth and development" (A Tribute to Paul Klee (exhibition catalogue), Ottawa, National Gallery of Canada, 1979, p. 37).