In the early 1920s, Klee painted a series of ghost chambers with eerie lines of perspective that reduce everything to skeletal transparency. As Klee rarely used perspective, he applied it in these works—always interiors—solely to show its delusive effects, a theory he relayed to his students in his Bauhaus lectures on the subject in November 1921. He demonstrates that perspective can be playful in this watercolor of an orange room cluttered with black wire utensils and with a tall violet door from which seemingly radiate the black perspectival lines.
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Title:Ghost Chamber with the Tall Door (New Version)
Artist:Paul Klee (German (born Switzerland), Münchenbuchsee 1879–1940 Muralto-Locarno)
Medium:Sprayed and brushed watercolor, and transferred printing ink on paper bordered with gouache and ink, mounted on cardboard
Inscription: Signed (lower right): Klee; inscribed (upper left): 21; dated and inscribed (lower left): 1925 A. 2. Geisterzimmer mit der Hohen Türe (neue Fassung); inscribed (on cardboard, lower left): VIII
Museum Folkwang Essen (by 1928–37; confiscated on July 6, 1937 as "degenerate art" by the Reich Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda, Berlin, EK inv. no. 17384 E; brought in August 1938 to Depot Schloss Schönhausen, Berlin; sold on December 18, 1939, for $60, to Karl Buchholz); [Curt Valentin (Buchholz Gallery), New York, 1939–40; sold to Taylor]; Davidson Taylor, New York (1940–72; sale, Sotheby, Parke Bernet, New York, April 26–27, 1972, no. 101, to Berggruen); Heinz Berggruen, Paris and New York (1972–87; his gift to MMA)
Kunsthalle Bern. "Ausstellung [Der grosse Bär, Paul Klee, Paul Eichenberger, Dora Lauterburg, G. Lüscher, Robert Schmitz]," November 8–29, 1925, no. 85 (as for sale, SFr 1250).
Prague. Kunstverein für Bohmen, Künstlerhaus Rudolfinum-Parlament. "Drei Ausstellungen: I. Jarsov Veris, Paris; Bilder und Zeichnungen; II. Paul Klee, München; 60 Aquarelle; III. Bernhard Reder, Rumänien; farbige Zeichnungen," February 27–March 14, 1926, no. 58.
Dresden. Galerie Neue Kunst Fides. "Paul Klee," May 21–end June 1926, no. 49.
Essen. Folkwang-Museum. "Kunst und Technik," June 8–July 22, 1928, no. 500 (as "Geisterzimmer mit der hohen Tür," lent by the Folkwang-Museum, Essen).
Munich. Archäologisches Institut. "Entartete Kunst," July 19–November 30, 1937.
Haus der Kunst, Berlin. "Entartete Kunst," February 26–May 8, 1938.
New York. Buchholz Gallery (Curt Valentin). "Landmarks in Modern German Art," April 2–27, 1940, no. 12 (as "Ghost Chamber with High Door [Geisterzimmer mit hoher Tuer]," formerly Folkwang Museum, Essen).
New York. Buchholz Gallery (Curt Valentin) and Willard Gallery. "Paul Klee," October 9–November 2, 1940, no. 49 (as "Ghost Chamber with High Door").
Paris. Grand Palais. "Jean Paulhan à travers ses peintres," February 1–April 15, 1974, no. 616 (as "La Chambre hantée à la haute porte [nouvelle version]," lent by the Galerie Berggruen, Paris).
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Selection Two: Twentieth-Century Art," June 4–September 2, 1985, no catalogue.
Canberra. Australian National Gallery. "20th Century Masters from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York," March 1–April 27, 1986, unnumbered cat. (p. 44).
Brisbane. Queensland Art Gallery. "20th Century Masters from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York," May 7–July 1, 1986, 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. 194).
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. 209).
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. 209).
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. 46.
Los Angeles County Museum of Art. "'Degenerate Art': The Fate of the Avant-Garde in Nazi Germany," February 17–May 12, 1991, unnumbered cat. (fig. 278).
Art Institute of Chicago. "'Degenerate Art': The Fate of the Avant-Garde in Nazi Germany," June 22–September 8, 1991, unnumbered cat.
Washington. S. Dillon Ripley Center, Smithsonian Institution. "'Degenerate Art': The Fate of the Avant-Garde in Nazi Germany," October 16, 1991–January 12, 1992.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Paul Klee's 'Transferred' Drawings," February 19–October 1993, 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. 30.
Dessau. Meisterhaus Kandinsky-Klee. "Wassily Kandinsky und Paul Klee. Eine Malerfreundschaft in Dessau," February 4–May 7, 2000, no. 6.
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: 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. Phillips Collection. "Klee and America," June 16–September 10, 2006, unnumbered cat. (pl. 38; as "Ghost Chamber with the High Door [New Version]").
Houston. Menil Collection. "Klee and America," October 6, 2006–January 14, 2007, unnumbered cat.
Berlin. Neue Nationalgalerie. "Das Universum Klee / The Klee Universe," October 31, 2008–February 8, 2009, unnumbered cat. (p. 246; as "Geisterzimmer mit der Hohen Ture (neue Fassung) [Ghost chamber with the High Door (new version)]").
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Late Klee," October 18, 2012–March 31, 2013, no catalogue.
New York. Neue Galerie. "Degenerate Art: The Attack on Modern Art in Nazi Germany, 1937," March 13–June 30, 2014, extended to September 1, 2014, no. 48.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art [The Met Breuer]. "Humor and Fantasy: The Berggruen Paul Klee Collection," September 1, 2016–January 2, 2017, no catalogue.
Agnes Waldstein, ed. Museum Folkwang. Vol. 1, Moderne Kunst: Malerei, Plastik, Grafik. Essen, 1929, p. 47, no. 533.
Will Grohmann. Paul Klee. New York, , pp. 223, 245, as "Haunted Room with Tall Door".
Will Grohmann. Paul Klee, 1879–1940. Munich, 1955, pl. 34.
Will Grohmann. "Bauhaus." L'Oeil no. 28 (April 1957), p. 18, ill., as in the collection of Davidson Taylor, New York.
Jürgen Glaesemer. Paul Klee. Die farbigen Werke im Kunstmuseum Bern: Gemälde, farbige Blätter, Hinterglasbilder und Plastiken. Bern, 1976, pp. 152–53, ill., lists it as location unknown.
Kay Vernon in20th Century Masters from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Exh. cat., Australian National Gallery. Canberra, 1986, p. 41, ill. p. 44 (color).
Andreas Hüneke. "'Weg mit Zwitschermaschine & Paukenorgel!' Paul Klee und die Aktion 'Entartete Kunst'." Paul Klee. Vorträge der wissenschaftlichen Konferenz in Dresden, 19. und 20. Dezember 1984. Berlin, 1986, p. 68, states that it was sold to Buchholz for $60 on behalf of "an interested American".
Margaret Plant. "Paul Klee's Perspectives." Australian Journal of Art 5 (1986), pp. 105, 109, fig. 1.
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. 194–97, 283, 318, ill. (color, overall and detail, and bw), discusses it among a series of ghost chambers painted in the early 1920s (MMA 1984.315.18, 1984.315.22), adding that this picture is an exact replica of the watercolor "Room Perspective with Dark Door" (1921; Museum Berggruen, Berlin; HR 2614); based on the identical dimensions of the objects portrayed, suggests that this picture and "Room Perspective Red-Green" (1921; Norton Simon Museum, Pasadena; HR 2637) were both based on the same drawing, now presumed lost.
Mario-Andreas von Lüttichau in Stephanie Barron. "Degenerate Art": The Fate of the Avant-Garde in Nazi Germany. Exh. cat., Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Los Angeles, 1991, pp. 72–75, 80, ill. (installation photos), notes that it was shown in Room G2 of the "Entartete Kunst" exhibition [Munich 1937], but that it did not have a National Socialist inventory number [see Ref. Fischer and Schneede 2010].
Andreas Hüneke in Stephanie Barron. "Degenerate Art": The Fate of the Avant-Garde in Nazi Germany. Exh. cat., Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Los Angeles, 1991, p. 130.
Pamela Kort in Stephanie Barron. "Degenerate Art": The Fate of the Avant-Garde in Nazi Germany. Exh. cat., Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Los Angeles, 1991, p. 284, fig. 278 (color).
Kathryn Elaine Kramer. "Mythopoetic Politics and the Transformation of the Classical Underworld Myth in the Late Work of Paul Klee." PhD diss., Columbia University, New York, 1993, p. 27, fig. 6, calls it "Ghost Chamber with Tall Door".
Wolfgang Kersten and Osamu Okuda. Paul Klee. Im Zeichen der Teilung. Exh. cat., Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen. Düsseldorf, 1995, p. 164, as "Geisterzimmer".
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. 266, under no. 2614, p. 267, under no. 2615, p. 274, under nos. 2637, 2638, p. 339, under no. 2759.
Andreas Hüneke. "Bilanzen der 'Verwertung' der 'Entarteten Kunst'." Überbrückt: Ästhetische Moderne und Nationalsozialismus Kunsthistoriker und Künstler 1925–1937. Ed. Eugen Blume and Dieter Scholz. Cologne, 1999, p. 267.
Josef Helfenstein and Christian Rümelin, ed. Paul Klee: Catalogue Raisonné. Ed. Paul Klee Foundation, Museum of Fine Arts, Berne. Vol. 4, 1923–1926. New York, 2000, p. 344, no. 3783, p. 346, under no. 3790, ill., call it "Geisterzimmer mit der Hohen Türe (Neue Fassung) [Ghost Chamber with the High Door (New Version)]".
Regine Prange. "Klee und Kandinsky in Dessau." Architektur und Kunst: Das Meisterhaus Kandinsky-Klee in Dessau. Leipzig, 2000, pp. 76, 80, colorpl. 12.
Christine Hopfengart. "Klee an den deutschen 'Museen der Gegenwart', 1916–1933." Paul Klee: Kunst und Karriere. Beiträge des Internationalen Symposiums in Bern. Ed. Oskar Bätschmann and Josef Helfenstein. Bern, 2000, pp. 71–72, 90, considers it probable that this picture was acquired by the Museum Folkwang in 1926, when Ernst Gosebruch, the museum's director, was in Dresden during Exh. Dresden 1926; alternately suggests this picture could have been purchased during its possible inclusion in a group exhibition at the Folkwang in 1927.
Vivian Endicott Barnett. The Blue Four Collection at the Norton Simon Museum. [Pasadena], 2002, pp. 287–88, discusses similarities in composition, color, and details between this picture and "Room Perspective with Dark Door" (Museum Berggruen, Berlin, HR 2614) [see Refs. Rewald 1988, Okuda 2006].
Osamu Okuda inKlee and America. Ed. Josef Helfenstein and Elizabeth Hutton Turner. Exh. cat., Neue Galerie, New York. Houston, 2006, pp. 96, 299, colorpl. 38, proposes the following chronology in the creation of this work: in 1921, Klee drew a picture with two different perspectives in the upper and lower parts of the composition respectively, applying red and green watercolor overall and redrawing the lines in the lower section; a tracing of the lower section is made at the same time; the original is cut in half, "Architecture in Red and Green" (upper half; private collection; HR 2638) and "Room Perspective in Red-Green" (lower half; Norton Simon Museum; HR 2637); the tracing of the lower half becomes the watercolor "Room Perspective with Dark Door" (Museum Berggruen; HR 2614), of which a new version is later made (the MMA picture).
Katrin Engelhardt. "Die Ausstellung 'Entartete Kunst' in Berlin 1938." Angriff auf die Avantgarde. Kunst und Kunstpolitik im Nationalsozialismus. Ed. Uwe Fleckner. Berlin, 2007, pp. 135, 175, erroneously lists it in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New York.
Dieter Scholz inThe Klee Universe. Ed. Dieter Scholz and Christina Thomson. Exh. cat., Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin. Ostfildern, 2008, pp. 62, 358, fig. 7 (installation photo), ill. p. 246 (color).
Hartwig Fischer and Uwe M. Schneede, ed. "Das schönste Museum der Welt": Museum Folkwang bis 1933. Exh. cat., Museum Folkwang. Göttingen, 2010, p. 351, provide the Entartete Kunst number 17384-E for this picture.
Jeffery Howe inPaul Klee. Philosophical Vision: From Nature to Art. Ed. John Sallis. Exh. cat., McMullen Museum of Art, Boston College. Chestnut Hill, Mass., 2012, p. 173, fig. 7, calls it "Ghost Chamber with the High Door (New Version)".
Christine Hopfengart and Michael Baumgartner. Paul Klee: Life and Work. Ed. Zentrum Paul Klee, Bern. Ostfildern, 2012, p. 328 n. 3.
Roland März inPicasso and His Time. Ed. Hans-Jürgen Papies et al. 6th enl. ed. (1st ed., 1996). Berlin, 2013, p. 296 n. 4, calls it "Haunted Room with a High Door (new version)".
Anja Tiedemann. Die "Entartete" Moderne und ihr amerikanischer Markt: Karl Buchholz und Curt Valentin als Händler verfemter Kunst. [Berlin], 2013, pp. 146, 370.
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