Paul Klee (German (born Switzerland), Münchenbuchsee 1879–1940 Muralto-Locarno)
Gouache, ink, and graphite on paper mounted on cardboard
25 3/4 × 17 1/2 in. (65.4 × 44.5 cm)
The Berggruen Klee Collection, 1984
On view at The Met Breuer on Floor 5
It seems doubtful that this Angel Applicant, resembling the offspring of a bulldog and a Halloween mask, will ever reach heaven. In 1939, Klee composed twenty-nine works that feature angels, having in earlier years only sporadically depicted them. His angels were not the celestial kind but hybrid creatures beset with human foibles and whims. Klee's angels are "forgetful,"still female,"ugly," incomplete," or "poor"-as the titles he gave these pictures indicate.
Suffering from an incurable illness and sensing himself hovering between life and death, Klee possibly felt a kinship with these outsiders. In this work, he covered a sheet of newspaper with black gouache on which he then drew the outlines of the figure and of the crescent moon with a thick, soft graphite pencil. Then he filled in these forms with a thin white wash. It is the black ground peeking through the white pigment that gives this creature its ghostly shimmer.
Inscription: Signed (lower center): Klee; dated and inscribed on cardboard (lower center): 1939 UU 16 Engel-Anwärter
probably the artist, Bern (1939–40); [Berggruen et Cie, Paris]; [Werner Rusche, Cologne, in 1955]; Carlo van den Bosch, Antwerp (in 1957); Charles Nilsson, Stockholm (by 1961–at least 1963); (sale, Christie's, London, March 29, 1977, no. 46, sold to Berggruen); Heinz Berggruen, Paris and Berlin (1977–84; on consignment to Fuji Television Gallery, Tokyo, 1981; his gift to MMA)
Kunsthaus Zürich. "Klee," February 16–March 25, 1940, no. 110 (as for sale, SFr 1200).
Cologne. Werner Rusche. "Klee: 12 erlesene Bilder," , unnumbered cat.
Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels. "Paul Klee," March 29–May 12, 1957, no. 102c (as "L'Ange-candidat," lent by C. van den Bosch, Antwerp).
Moderna Museet, Stockholm. "Paul Klee," February–April 1961, no. 158 (lent by a private collection, Sweden).
Helsinki. Ateneum Art Museum. "Paul Klee," April 15–May 14, 1961, no. 158.
Moderna Museet, Stockholm. "Önskemuseet (The Museum of Our Wishes)," December 26, 1963–February 16, 1964, no. 107 (lent by Charles Nilsson, Stockholm).
Saint-Paul. Fondation Maeght. "Paul Klee," July 9–September 30, 1977, no. 160 (as "Ange candidat," lent by a private collection, Paris).
London. Hayward Gallery. "Dada and Surrealism Reviewed," January 11–March 27, 1978, no. 12.79 (as "Ange candidat. Angel candidate," lent by a private collection).
Tokyo. Fuji Television Gallery. "Exhibition of Paul Klee," October 23–November 21, 1981, no. 31.
Osaka. Gallery Kasahara. "Exhibition of Paul Klee," November 27–December 12, 1981, no catalogue.
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. 261).
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. 271).
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. 271).
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Paul Klee: Figures and Faces," August 23–November 16, 1997, 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 Creatures," December 12, 2003–March 14, 2004, 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. "Late Klee," October 18, 2012–March 31, 2013, no catalogue.
Felix Klee. Paul Klee par lui-même et par son fils Felix Klee. Ed. Bernard Gheerbrant. Enl. ed. (1st ed., German, 1960; 2nd ed., English, 1962). Paris, 1963, p. 148 (German ed., p. 265; English ed., p. 199), calls it "Aspirant-ange"; lists it among 27 angels executed by Klee in 1939.
Max Huggler. Paul Klee. Die Malerei als Blick in den Kosmos. Frauenfeld, 1969, p. 198.
Daniel Abadie. Paul Klee. [Paris], 1977, ill. p. 153.
Douglas Hall. Klee. Oxford, 1977, pp. 13, 16, colorpl. 48, as "Aspiring Angel," in a private collection.
Haruo Arikawa inExhibition of Paul Klee. Exh. cat., Fuji Television Gallery. Tokyo, 1981, p. 73, no. 31, ill. p. 60 (color), as "Engel-Anwärter (Candidate for Angel)".
Christian Geelhaar. Klee-Zeichnungen, "Reise ins Land der besseren Erkenntnis". (1st ed. 1975). Cologne, 1981, p. 26.
Gert Schiff. "Klee's Array of Angels." Artforum 25 (May 1987), p. 129.
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. 260–61, 289, 319, ill. (color and bw), notes that Klee made 29 images of angels in 1939.
John Russell. "Playful Images Rich in Riddles by Paul Klee at the Met." New York Times (May 6, 1988), ill. p. C1.
Jane Norrie. "Paul Klee." Arts Review 41 (June 2, 1989), p. 439.
Marcel Franciscono. Paul Klee. His Work and Thought. Chicago, 1991, pp. 315–16, fig. 168.
Kathleen Howard, ed. The Metropolitan Museum of Art Guide. 2nd ed. (1st ed., 1983). New York, 1994, p. 461, no. 53, ill. (color).
Josef Helfenstein, Christian Rümelin, and Eva Wiederkehr Sladeczek, ed. Paul Klee: Catalogue Raisonné. Ed. Paul Klee Foundation, Museum of Fine Arts, Berne. Vol. 8, 1939. New York, 2004, p. 397, no. 8562, ill. and ill. p. 369 (color), as "Engel-Anwärter (Postulant Angel)".