Ein paar Staemme
Période : XXe siècle
Ecole : Suisse
Aquarelle et gouache
18 x 27,5
Signé, en bas à droite, Klee, et daté sur le montage d’artiste, en bas à gauche, 1935 L1, et titré, en bas à droite, Ein paar Staemme
For Paul Klee, as his friend and biographer Will Grohmann noted, the years 1934 and 1935 were ones that marked ‘a new start’ for the artist that was ‘then interrupted by illness for nearly 12 months.’ Dismissed from his post of professor at the Dusseldorf Academy and forced to leave Germany by the Nazis in 1933, Klee had returned to his native Switzerland to begin again from a small flat in his hometown of Bern. In spite of his difficulties, as he wrote enthusiastically to Grohmann in 1935, ‘in my own field things aren’t going too badly. The technical side of art is becoming second nature to me, my inventions don’t fall over each other anymore but they haven’t stopped, and I am venturing larger canvases despite my humble den.’
Painted in 1935, Ein Paar Staemme (A few Trunks) belongs to a rare group of watercolour paintings from this year that mark one of these ‘inventions’ and the origins of a new direction in Klee’s work. It is one in which unusually large and distinct individual forms and objects, all radiantly coloured and isolated from one another by thick outlines of black ink have been grouped together against a varying sequence of dark, earthy backgrounds to form an intricate and intriguing, semi-abstract whole. All based on natural forms deriving from elements found in a forest landscape, this notable series of works includes such 1935 pictures as Der Tag im Wald, Der Edle Wald, Seltene Früchte, Landschaftsteile gesammelt and Ilfenburg (now in the Columbus Museum of Art, Columbus, Ohio).
Clearly defined by their combination of rich colours and clearly outlined shapes highlighting their autonomous, individuality and collective interaction with one another to form a cohesive landscape of parts, these paintings mark an extension of the abstract patterning of his magic-square paintings and mosaic pictures of the early 1930s back into the realm of nature and figuration. In so doing they also anticipate Klee’s later translation of such object-landscapes into the linear hieroglyphs of his last years and more particularly the technique Klee was to employ in such late masterpieces as Ausbruch der Angst III of 1939 (Klee Zentrum, Bern) and even his Das letzte Stilleben of 1940.
From its title and subject-matter to the way in which it generates a new and exhilarating pictorial reality out of something so mundane as the disparate forms of tree roots, Ein Paar Staemme is a work that visually appears to echo and paraphrase the famous sentiments about the way in which a work of art grows like a tree from humble beginnings in a lecture he gave about his work and the purpose of art in Jena in 1924. ‘I should like to compare the way in which the things in nature and life, this whole branched order of things, are arranged, to the roots of a tree. From it the lymph flows up into the artist and passes through him and through his eyes. So he finds himself in the place of the tree trunk. Held there by the force of this flow, and moved by it, he transmits what he has seen through his work. His work develops visibly in all directions, in time and space, as the leaves of a tree do. No one ever suggested that a tree's leaves should be formed like its roots. Everyone knows that there cannot be an exact relationship between the bottom of a tree and the top...[the artist] merely collects and transmits what comes from above, in the place he has been assigned beside the tree trunk. He neither serves nor dominates - he transmits. So his position is a modest one. He himself is not the beauty of the leaves; that has merely passed through him.’
 W. Grohmann, Paul Klee, London, 1954, p. 312.
 P. Klee, ‘Letter to Will Grohmann,’ quoted in C. Hopfengart and M. Baumgartner, Paul Klee, Life and Work, Ostfildern, 2012, p. 276.
 P. Klee, Lecture given in Jena, 1924, quoted in H. Jaffe, Paul Klee, London, 1971, pp. 27-28.
The Paul Klee Foundation, Paul Klee: Catalogue Raisonné 1934-1938, Bern, 2003, vol. 7, p. 164, n. 6803, illustré
Lily Klee (1940–1946),
Berne, par descendance
Kahnweiler (1884–1979), Paris
Couturier et Cie., Paris, 1967,
Svensk-Franka Konstgalleriet, 1947, Beaudin,
Gris, Kremadec, Klee, Lascaux, Léger, Manolo, Masson, Picasso, Roger, Roux, n. 56
Svensk-Franka Konstgalleriet, Paul Klee, mars 1949, n. 52
Moderna Museet, 1961; et Helsinki, Ateneum, Paul Klee, 1961, n.
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