Klee did not embrace abstraction in sheer pursuit of some deep spiritual goal, as did Kandinsky and Mondrian. Instead, as his titles playfully indicate, he just tried to keep reality at bay. When the artist began to work earnestly in oil in 1919, he painted a series of small works, mostly on cardboard, that had as their subject matter magic landscapes or gardens. Here the little fir trees placed on a sort of Cubist ground evoke some enchanted forest.
Inscription: Signed, dated and numbered (center left): Klee/ 1920. 38
the artist, Munich (1920–21; sold in April 1921 to Goltz); [Galerie Neue Kunst Hans Goltz, Munich, from 1921]; Paul Erich Küppers, Hannover (until d. 1922); his widow, Sophie Küppers, later Lissitzky-Küppers, Hannover, Moscow, and Novosibirsk, Russia (1922–58; on loan to the Provinzialmuseum, Hannover, 1926–30; retrieved by El Lissitzky in 1930 and brought to Moscow; sold in 1958 to Kos); Carlo Kos, Klagenfurt, Austria (1958–74; sale, Sotheby's, London, July 2–3, 1974, no. 92, sold to Acquavella); [Acquavella Galleries, New York, 1974]; Heinz Berggruen, Paris and Berlin (1974–84; his gift to MMA)
Munich. Galerie Neue Kunst Hans Goltz. "Paul Klee," May–June 1920, no. 29 (as "Rotgrüne und violettgelbe Rhythmen") [catalogue published in "Der Ararat" 2, May–June 1920, p. 21].
Munich. Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus. "Paul Klee: Das Frühwerk 1883–1922," December 12, 1979–March 2, 1980, no. 411 (lent by a private collection, Switzerland).
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. 111).
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. 111).
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. 111).
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. 16.
Museum of Art, Fort Lauderdale. "20th Century Flower Painting," February 1–March 31, 1991, no catalogue.
Nagoya. Aichi Prefectural Museum of Art. "Paul Klee Retrospective," April 2–May 23, 1993, no. 96.
Yamaguchi Prefectural Museum of Art. "Paul Klee Retrospective," June 1–July 25, 1993, no. 96.
Tokyo. Bunkamura Museum of Art. "Paul Klee Retrospective," July 31–September 21, 1993, no. 96.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Klee in Munich," January 12–July 21, 1996, no catalogue.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Klee Landscapes," November 20, 1997–February 8, 1998, no catalogue.
Staatliche Museen zu Berlin. Sammlung Berggruen. "Klee aus New York: Hauptwerke der Sammlung Berggruen im Metropolitan Museum of Art," June 4–October 18, 1998, no. 6 (as "Kubischer Aufbau [mit kobaltviolettem Kreuz]").
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Klee Paintings," September 14, 1999–March 12, 2000, no catalogue.
Museum of Modern Art, Kamakura. "Paul Klee and His Travels," February 9–March 31, 2002, no. 100 (as "Kubischer-Aufbau [mit kobaltviolettem Kreuz]").
Morioka. Iwate Museum of Art. "Paul Klee and His Travels," April 13–June 9, 2002, no. 100.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Klee the Voyager," February 4–May 4, 2003, no catalogue.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Klee Abstract," September 5–December 7, 2003, no catalogue.
Rome. Fondazione Memmo. "Paul Klee: La collezione Berggruen," October 11, 2006–January 7, 2007, no. 14.
London. Tate Modern. "The EY Exhibition—Paul Klee: Making Visible," October 16, 2013–March 9, 2014, unnumbered cat. (p. 61).
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. 110–11, 275, 317, ill. (color and bw), notes that Klee recorded it in his oeuvre catalogue as "Kubischer Aufbau (mit kobaltviolettem Kreuz) [Cubist Construction (with cobalt-violet cross)"], but that he must have painted over the cross; places it among a series of small oils of "magic landscapes or gardens" from 1919.
Ulrich Bischoff. Paul Klee. Munich, 1992, pp. 40, 172, colorpl. 23.
Christiane Dessauer-Reiners. Das Rhythmische bei Paul Klee. Eine Studie zum genetischen Bildverfahren. Worms, 1996, pp. 78, 140–41 n. 4, p. 205, fig. 8, as "Kubischer Aufbau (mit kobaldviolettem Kreuz) (Rotgrüne und violett-gelbe Rhythmen)".
Josef Helfenstein and Christian Rümelin, ed. Paul Klee: Catalogue Raisonné. Ed. Paul Klee Foundation, Museum of Fine Arts, Berne. Vol. 3, 1919–1922. New York, 1999, p. 165, no. 2383, ill., call it "Kubischer Aufbau (mit kobalt-violettem Kreuz) [Cubic Construction (with Cobalt-Violet Cross)]".
Ingeborg Prior. Die geraubten Bilder: Die abenteuerliche Geschichte der Sophie Lissitzky-Küppers und ihrer Kunstsammlung. Cologne, 2002, pp. 103–4, 155, 188–89, 194–95, calls it "Kubischer Aufbau"; notes that in 1926, Lissitzky-Küppers left sixteen works on loan at the Provinzialmuseum, Hannover prior to moving to Moscow, and that El Lissitzky retrieved three of these, including this picture, in 1930; recounts the recollection of Lissitzky-Küppers's granddaughter of this picture being used to catch crumbs from the table during her grandmother's exile in Novosibirsk; remarks that it is the only work to have been sold legally from Lissitzky-Küppers's collection during a 1958 trip to Austria.
Matthew Gale inThe EY Exhibition—Paul Klee: Making Visible. Exh. cat., Tate Modern. London, 2013, pp. 48, 104, 246, ill. (color) p. 61 and front cover.