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Abstract Trio

Paul Klee (German (born Switzerland), Münchenbuchsee 1879–1940 Muralto-Locarno)

Date:
1923
Medium:
Watercolor and transferred printing ink on paper, bordered with gouache and ink, mounted on cardboard
Dimensions:
12 1/2 x 19 3/4 in. (31.8 x 50.2 cm)
Classification:
Drawings
Credit Line:
The Berggruen Klee Collection, 1984
Accession Number:
1984.315.36
  • Description

    This work provides a lesson in one's susceptibility to Klee's evocative titles. The artist copied the image of this watercolor from a smaller pencil drawing, which he called "Theater of Masks." Thus one looks for masks-albeit abstract ones-in the drawing. But in the watercolor, these same three sprightly forms might represent as well the abstract sound patterns of three voices or three instruments. An accomplished violinist himself, music played a great role in Klee's life. His favorite composers were Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven. His passion for music is reflected in the titles of some of his works. According to his son Felix, of the 9,146 works Klee recorded in his oeuvre catalogue, more than 500 refer to the theater, masks, or music.

  • Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings

    Inscription: Signed (upper right): Klee; dated and inscribed on cardboard (center): 1923.88. Abstractes Terzett; (lower left): VII

  • Provenance

    [Galerie Neue Kunst Fides (Rudolf Probst), Dresden, 1928–30]; [Galerie Alfred Flechtheim, Düsseldorf and Berlin, 1930]; [J. B. Neumann, New York, 1930; sold to Barr]; Alfred H. Barr, Jr., New York (1930–80); [E. V. Thaw & Co., New York, ca. 1980–81]; Heinz Berggruen, Paris and Berlin (1981–84; his gift to MMA)

  • Exhibition History

    Kunsthalle Basel. "Bauhaus Dessau: J. Albers, L. Feininger, W. Kandinsky, P. Klee, O. Schlemmer," April 20–May 9,1929, no. 123 (listed for sale for mk 1,000).

    Berlin. Galerie Ferdinand Möller. "Das Geistige in der Kunst," October 1929, no. 118.

    Museum of Modern Art, New York. "Paul Klee," March 13–April 2, 1930, no. 3 (lent by the artist through Flechtheim and Neumann).

    New York. New Art Circle Gallery, J. B. Neumann. "Paul Klee," March 18–April 6, 1935 [see Ref. Art Digest 1935].

    Museum of Modern Art, New York. "Cubism and Abstract Art," March 2–April 19, 1936, no. 109 (lent by a private collection, New York).

    New York. Buchholz Gallery, Curt Valentin and Willard Gallery. "Paul Klee," October 9–November 2, 1940, no. 33 (lent by a private collection, New York).

    Northhampton, Mass. Smith College Museum of Art. "Paul Klee: Memorial Exhibition," January 7–22, 1941, no catalogue.

    Arts Club of Chicago. "Paul Klee: Memorial Exhibition," January 31–February 28, 1941, no. 21 (lent anonymously).

    Portland, Ore. Portland Art Museum. "Paul Klee: Memorial Exhibition," March 10–April 9, 1941, no catalogue.

    San Francisco Museum of Art. "Paul Klee: Memorial Exhibition," April 14–May 5, 1941.

    Los Angeles. Stendahl Art Galleries. "Paul Klee: Memorial Exhibition," May 8–18, 1941.

    City Art Museum of Saint Louis. "Paul Klee: Memorial Exhibition," May 24–June 21, 1941, no catalogue.

    Museum of Modern Art, New York. "Paul Klee," June 30–July 27, 1941, no. 21 (lent anonymously).

    Wellesley, Mass. Wellesley College. "Paul Klee: Memorial Exhibition," October 14–November 2, 1941, no catalogue.

    Philadelphia Art Alliance. "Paul Klee: Paintings, Drawings, Prints," March 14–April 9, 1944, no. 14 (lent by a private collection, New York).

    New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Paul Klee: The Berggruen Klee Collection in The Metropolitan Museum of Art," May 6–July 31, 1988, unnumbered cat. (p. 176).

    Kunsthalle Tübingen. "Paul Klee: Die Sammlung Berggruen im Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York und im Musée National d'Art Moderne, Paris," January 22–April 16, 1989, unnumbered cat. (p. 181).

    London. Tate Gallery. "Paul Klee: The Berggruen Collection in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York and the Musée National d'Art Moderne, Paris," May 17–August 13, 1989, unnumbered cat. (p. 181).

    Mexico City. Centro Cultural Arte Contemporáneo. "Paul Klee: Selección de sesenta obras. The Berggruen Klee Collection. The Metropolitan Museum of Art," October 1989–January 1990, no. 39.

    New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Klee and Friends," June 9–November 26, 1995, no catalogue.

    New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Klee Abstract," September 5–December 7, 2003, no catalogue.

    New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Klee: His Years at the Bauhaus (1921–1931)," November 19, 2004–April 3, 2005, no catalogue.

    New York. Neue Galerie. "Klee and America," March 10–May 22, 2006, unnumbered cat. (pl. 22).

    Washington. Phillips Collection. "Klee and America," June 16–September 10, 2006, unnumbered cat.

    Houston. Menil Collection. "Klee and America," October 6, 2006–January 14, 2007, unnumbered cat.

  • References

    Alfred H. Barr Jr. Paul Klee. Exh. cat., Museum of Modern Art, New York. New York, 1930, pp. 10, 13, no. 3, ill.

    Jerome Klein. "The Line of Introversion." New Freeman 1 (April 5, 1930), p. 89.

    "Sincerity, Incredible Fantasy, in Klee's Art." Art Digest 9 (March 15, 1935), p. 13, ill.

    Alfred H. Barr Jr. in Cubism and Abstract Art. Exh. cat., Museum of Modern Art. New York, 1936, pp. 180, 212, no. 109, fig. 198.

    Robert M. Coates. "The Art Galleries: A Memorial to Paul Klee." New Yorker 16 (October 12, 1940), p. 94.

    Alfred H. Barr Jr. in Paul Klee. Exh. cat., Museum of Modern Art, New York. New York, 1941, pp. 6, 9, no. 21.

    Alfred H. Barr, Jr. "Introduction." Paul Klee. Ed. Margaret Miller. 2nd rev. ed. (1st ed., 1941). New York, 1945, p. 7, ill. p. 34.

    Will Grohmann. Paul Klee. New York, [1954], p. 87.

    Will Grohmann. Paul Klee: Drawings. New York, 1960, p. 14 [German ed., Cologne, 1959].

    Christina Kröll. "Die Bildtitel Paul Klees: Eine Studie zur Beziehung von Bild und Sprache in der Kunst des zwanzigsten Jahrhunderts." PhD. diss., Rheinischen Friedrich Wilhelms Universität, Bonn, 1968, p. 32.

    Stefan Frey and Wolfgang Kersten in Alfred Flechtheim: Sammler. Kunsthändler. Verleger. 1937. Europa vor dem 2.Weltkrieg. Eds. Stephan von Wiese and Monika Flacke Knoch. Exh. cat., Kunstmuseum Düsseldorf. Düsseldorf, 1987, p. 82 n. 184.

    Carolyn Lanchner in Paul Klee. Ed. Carolyn Lanchner. Exh. cat., Museum of Modern Art, New York. New York, 1987, pp. 99, 110 n. 92, fig. 16.

    Sabine Rewald. Paul Klee: The Berggruen Klee Collection in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1988, pp. 176–77, 281, 318, ill. (color and bw).

    Christiane Dessauer Reiners. Das Rhythmische bei Paul Klee. Eine Studie zum genetischen Bildverfahren. Worms, 1996, pp. 79, 158 n 1, p. 206, fig. 18.

    Josef Helfenstein and Christian Rümelin, eds. Paul Klee: Catalogue Raisonné. Vol. 4, 1923–1926. Ed. Paul Klee Foundation, Museum of Fine Arts, Berne. New York, 2000, pp. 90, 440, no. 3181, ill.

    Vivian Endicott Barnett in Klee and America. Eds. Josef Helfenstein and Elizabeth Hutton Turner. Exh. cat., Neue Galerie, New York. Houston, 2006, p. 38.

    Josef Helfenstein in Klee and America. Eds. Josef Helfenstein and Elizabeth Hutton Turner. Exh. cat., Neue Galerie, New York. Houston, 2006, p. 144.

    Osamu Okuda in Klee and America. Eds. Josef Helfenstein and Elizabeth Hutton Turner. Exh. cat., Neue Galerie, New York. Houston, 2006, p. 299, colorpl. 22.

    Elizabeth Hutton Turner in Klee and America. Eds. Josef Helfenstein and Elizabeth Hutton Turner. Exh. cat., Neue Galerie, New York. Houston, 2006, p. 227.

  • See also
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    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History
    MetPublications
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