Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Variations (Progressive Motif)

Artist:
Paul Klee (German (born Switzerland), Münchenbuchsee 1879–1940 Muralto-Locarno)
Date:
1927
Medium:
Oil and watercolor on canvas
Dimensions:
16 x 15 3/4 in. (40.6 x 40 cm)
Classification:
Paintings
Credit Line:
The Berggruen Klee Collection, 1984
Accession Number:
1984.315.48
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 912
Klee gridded this small canvas in such a way that the design looks like slightly irregular graph paper or a pattern of parquetry boards. Due to a variation in the same motif—horizontally striped, light blue squares on the outside versus ivory-shaded ones with diagonal and crisscross lines toward the center—there emerges a subtly patterned image that anticipates Minimalist painting by about forty years.
Inscription: Signed, dated and inscribed (upper right): Klee/ 1927 Omega 9.
the artist, Dessau (1927–33; on consignment to Galerie Neue Kunst Fides [Rudolf Probst], Dresden, 1928; on consignment to Galerie Alfred Flechtheim, Berlin, 1928–probably until 1933; sold in 1933 to Galerie Simon); [Galerie Simon (Daniel Henry Kahnweiler), later called Galerie Louise Leiris, Paris, 1933–ca. 1950; sold ca. 1950 to Berggruen]; [Berggruen & Cie, Paris, from ca. 1950]; Heinz Berggruen, Paris and Berlin (1973–84; his gift to MMA)

Berlin. Galerie Alfred Flechtheim. "Paul Klee," March 18–April 24, 1928, no. 19 (as "Variationen").

Brussels. Galerie le Centaure. "Exposition P. Klee, Exposition R. Sintenis," December 22–30, 1928, no. 25 (as "Variations").

Paris. Galerie Georges Bernheim et Cie. "Exposition Paul Klee," February 1–15, 1929, no. 24 (as "Variations").

Berlin. Galerie Alfred Flechtheim. "Paul Klee," October 20–November 15, 1929, no. 77 (as "Variationen," for sale).

Museum of Modern Art, New York. "Paul Klee," March 13–April 2, 1930, no. 20 (as "Variations," lent by the artist through Flechtheim and Neumann).

Düsseldorf. Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen. "Paul Klee," June 14–July 6, 1931, no. 38 (as "Variationen").

Copenhagen. Liniens Sammenslutning. "Efter-Expressionisme, abstrakt Kunst, Neoplasticisme, Surrealisme," September 1–13, 1937, no. 45.

Frankfurt. Galerie Buchheim-Militon. "Paul Klee. Gemälde, Aquarelle, Zeichnungen, Graphik," opened November 10, 1950, no. 12 (as "Omega").

Nationalgalerie Berlin. Staatliche Museen Preußischer Kulturbesitz. "Hommage à Schönberg. Der Blaue Reiter und das Musikalische in der Malerei der Zeit," September 11–November 4, 1974, no. 62 (as "Omega," lent by the Berggruen collection, Paris).

Museum of Modern Art, New York. "Paul Klee," February 12–May 5, 1987, unnumbered cat. (p. 225).

Cleveland Museum of Art. "Paul Klee," June 24–August 16, 1987, unnumbered cat.

Kunstmuseum Bern. "Paul Klee: Leben und Werk," September 25, 1987–January 3, 1988, no. 177.

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. 220).

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. 233).

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. 233).

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

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Late Klee," December 6, 1996–April 13, 1997, no catalogue.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Klee Paintings," September 14, 1999–March 12, 2000, 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: The Late Years," March 19–June 27, 2004, 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.

Washington. Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution. "Visual Music," June 23–September 11, 2005, unnumbered cat. (p. 218).

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Late Klee," October 18, 2012–March 31, 2013, no catalogue.

Alfred H. Barr, Jr. Paul Klee. Exh. cat., Museum of Modern Art, New York. New York, 1930, pp. 9, 14, no. 20, ill.

Alfred H. Barr, Jr. "Introduction." Paul Klee. Ed. Margaret Miller. 2nd rev. ed. (1st ed., 1941). New York, 1945, pp. 6–7, ill. p. 40, as "Variations".

Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler. Klee. Paris, 1950, ill. n. p. (color), as "Omega".

A. D. B. Sylvester. "Architecture in Modern Painting." Architectural Review 109 (February 1951), ill. p. 89, calls it "Omega".

Gualtieri di San Lazzaro. Klee: A Study of His Life and Work. New York, 1957, p. 293, no. 67, ill. p. 268.

Jürg Spiller, ed. Paul Klee: The Thinking Eye. The Notebooks of Paul Klee. New York, 1961, p. 526, ill. p. 28 [German ed., Basel, 1956].

James Smith Pierce. Paul Klee and Primitive Art. PhD diss., Institute of Fine Arts, New York University. New York, 1976, pp. 49–50, observes a similar linear patterning in Polynesian tapa textiles, which Klee may have seen in the Bern Historical Museum.

Sadao Wada. Paul Klee and His Travels. Exh. cat.Tokyo, 1980, fig. 400, calls it "Construction Based on Variation".

Jürgen Glaesemer. Paul Klee. Handzeichnungen. Vol. 2, 1921–1936. Bern, 1984, p. 166, ill., locates it in a private collection, Paris; discusses it in relation to the drawing "Architecture by Variations" (1927; Kunstmuseum Bern; HR 2001, no. 4521).

Stefan Frey and Wolfgang Kersten in Alfred Flechtheim: Sammler. Kunsthändler. Verleger. 1937. Europa vor dem 2.Weltkrieg. Ed. Stephan von Wiese and Monika Flacke-Knoch. Exh. cat., Kunstmuseum Düsseldorf. Düsseldorf, 1987, p. 79, reproduce Klee's 1928 price list of paintings for Flechtheim, which includes this picture.

Carolyn Lanchner in Paul Klee. Ed. Carolyn Lanchner. Exh. cat., Museum of Modern Art, New York. New York, 1987, pp. 94–95, 104, fig. 12, ill. p. 225.

Ann Temkin in Paul Klee. Ed. Carolyn Lanchner. Exh. cat., Museum of Modern Art, New York. New York, 1987, p. 26.

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. 220–21, 223, 285, 318, ill. (color and bw).

Robert and Leda Natkin. "Exhibition Reviews: Paul Klee." Modern Painters 2 (Summer 1989), p. 99, erroneously date it 1923.

Ulrich Bischoff. Paul Klee. Munich, 1992, pp. 49–50, 173, colorpl. 46.

Richard Hoppe-Sailer. "'Gut ist Formung. Schlecht ist Form.' Zum Problem des Naturbegriffs bei Paul Klee." PhD diss., Universität Basel, 1998, p. 250 n. 441.

Josef Helfenstein and Christian Rümelin, ed. Paul Klee: Catalogue Raisonné. Ed. Paul Klee Foundation, Museum of Fine Arts, Berne. Vol. 5, 1927–1930. New York, 2001, p. 161, no. 4513, ill.

Lauren Hebert and Heather McGuire in Visual Music: Synaesthesia in Art and Music Since 1900. Exh. cat., Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles and Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution. Los Angeles, 2005, pp. 231, 253, ill. p. 218 (color).



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