Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Comedians' Handbill

Artist:
Paul Klee (German (born Switzerland), Münchenbuchsee 1879–1940 Muralto-Locarno)
Date:
1938
Medium:
Gouache on newsprint mounted on cardboard
Dimensions:
21 1/2 × 14 1/4 in. (54.6 × 36.2 cm)
Classification:
Drawings
Credit Line:
The Berggruen Klee Collection, 1984
Accession Number:
1984.315.57
On view at The Met Breuer on Floor 5
In tune with the motto "the medium is the message," Klee designed this handbill on a sheet of newspaper that he had covered with caramel-colored gouache. Correcting here and there the figures' contours, he filled the spaces between them with bone-colored gouache. Touches of white and pink gouache add animation. Here in these thick-stemmed, black pictographs, Klee makes his abbreviated black figures from the previous year even thicker. Leaping into our vision as boldly as an advertisement, these signs symbolize syncopated movement, frolicking creatures, and stick figures.
Inscription: Signed (upper right): Klee; dated and inscribed on cardboard (lower left): 1938 E 2; (lower right): Werbeblatt der Komiker
the artist, Bern (1938–d. 1940); his widow, Lily Klee, Bern (1940–46); Paul Klee Society, later Paul Klee Foundation, Bern (from 1946); [Galerie Louise Leiris, Paris, until ca. 1948]; [Berggruen & Cie, Paris]; Emil G. Bührle, Zurich (1948–49); [Marlborough Fine Art Ltd., London, 1967–68; sold in December 1968 to Saidenberg]; [Saidenberg Gallery, New York, 1968; sold in December 1968 to Hulton]; Lady Nika Hulton, London (1968–at least 1975; on longterm loan to Kunsthaus Zürich, 1969–75); [Reid & Lefevre, London]; [Marlborough Fine Art Ltd., London, 1981]; Heinz Berggruen, Paris and Berlin (1981–84; his gift to MMA)

Museum of Modern Art, New York. "'Primitivism' in 20th Century Art: Affinity of the Tribal and the Modern," September 19, 1984–January 15, 1985, unnumbered cat. (p. 59; as "Poster for Comedians," lent by a private collection, Switzerland).

Detroit Institute of Arts. "'Primitivism' in 20th Century Art: Affinity of the Tribal and the Modern," February 27–May 19, 1985, unnumbered cat.

Dallas Museum of Art. "'Primitivism' in 20th Century Art: Affinity of the Tribal and the Modern," July 23–September 1, 1985, unnumbered cat.

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. 255).

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. 265).

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. 265).

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Klee Cities," June 22–September 5, 1999, no catalogue.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Klee's Line," March 18–July 9, 2000, no catalogue.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Klee Figures," October 5, 2001–March 10, 2002, no catalogue.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Klee's Best," May 24–September 22, 2002, 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. "Made in Germany," May 22–October 14, 2007, no catalogue.

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

Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler. Klee. Paris, 1950, ill. n. p. (color), calls it "Feuille de propagande des comiques".

Will Grohmann. Paul Klee. New York, [1954], pp. 328, 419, no. 384, ill. p. 297, as "Poster for Comedians," in the collection of the Galerie Louise Leiris, Paris.

Gualtieri di San Lazzaro. Klee: A Study of His Life and Work. New York, 1957, p. 300, no. 136, ill. p. 277, as "Poster for Comedians," in the collection of the Louise Leiris Gallery, Paris.

Jürg Spiller, ed. Paul Klee: The Thinking Eye. The Notebooks of Paul Klee. New York, 1961, p. 517 [German ed., Basel, 1956], calls it "Poster for Comedians".

Norio Awazu. Klee/ Kandinsky. [Tokyo], 1968, ill. p. 105.

Max Huggler. Paul Klee. Die Malerei als Blick in den Kosmos. Frauenfeld, 1969, pp. 187–88.

Miroslav Míčko. Expresionismus. Prague, 1969, pl. 33, erroneously locates it still in the Galerie Louise Leiris, Paris.

Hans H. Hofstätter. Malerei und Graphik der Gegenwart. Baden-Baden, 1969, pp. 153, 306, fig. 38.

Tilman Osterwold. Paul Klee. Die Ordnung der Dinge. Exh. cat., Württembergischer Kunstverein. Stuttgart, 1975, pp. 179, 190, fig. 353, erroneously locates it still in the Galerie Louise Leiris, Paris.

Michael Brenson. "90 Works by Paul Klee Donated to Met Museum." New York Times (June 6, 1984), ill. p. C18.

William Rubin in "Primitivism" in 20th Century Art: Affinity of the Tribal and the Modern. Ed. William Rubin. Exh. cat., Museum of Modern Art. New York, 1984, vol. 1, p. 59, ill., compares it to a bark-cloth painting from Zaire.

John Russell. "Art: Primitive Spirits Invade the Modern." New York Times (September 28, 1984), p. C28.

Sabine Rewald in The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Notable Acquisitions, 1984–1985. New York, 1985, p. 53, ill., as "Handbill for Comedians".

Charles W. Haxthausen. "'Primitivism' in Twentieth Century Art. Detroit." Burlington Magazine 127 (May 1985), p. 326, fig. 80.

Albert Cook. "The Sign in Klee." Word & Image 2 (October–December 1986), pp. 373–74, fig. 8, calls it "Poster for Comedians".

Claude Frontisi. "Paul Klee: La poésie des signes." Les Abstractions I: La diffusion des Abstractions. Hommage à Jean Laude. Saint-Etienne, 1986, pp. 139, 142 n. 47, calls it "Prospectus des comiques" in the text and "Werbeblatt der Komiker" in the footnotes; erroneously dates it 1939.

Patrick O'Connor. "Paul Klee in New York." FMR no. 25 (March/ April 1987), ill. p. 7 (color), calls it "Handbill for Comedians".

John Russell. "Art: Unexpected Juxtapositions in the Met's New Wing." New York Times (January 21, 1987), ill. p. C17, as "Handbill for Comedians".

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. 254–55, 288, 319, ill. (color and bw).

Marcel Franciscono. Paul Klee. His Work and Thought. Chicago, 1991, pp. 186–87, 193, fig. 102, as "Handbill for Comedians".

Marianne Vogel. Zwischen Wort und Bild. Das schriftliche Werk Paul Klees und die Rolle der Sprache in seinem Denken und in seiner Kunst. Munich, 1992, pp. 131, 143, 173, 198, no. 270, pl. 18, erroneously locates it in the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto.

Maria F. Popia. "L'estetica musicale di Paul Klee." PhD diss., Università degli Studi di Genova, 2000, p. 293, ill. (color).

Josef Helfenstein and Christian Rümelin, ed. Paul Klee: Catalogue Raisonné. Ed. Paul Klee Foundation, Museum of Fine Arts, Berne. Vol. 7, 1934–1938. New York, 2003, p. 342, no. 7243, ill., as "Werbeblatt der Komiker (Promotional Leaflet for Comedians)".



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