Paul Klee (1879-1940)
Paul Klee (1879-1940)


Paul Klee (1879-1940)
signed 'Klee' (center right); dated, numbered and titled '1930 d.6 Winterbild' (on the artist's mount)
gouache, watercolor, pen and black ink and silver foil collage on paper laid down on board
Image size: 12 5/8 x 19¼ in. (31.9 x 48.9 cm.)
Mount size: 19 x 25 in. (48.3 x 63.5 cm.)
Executed in 1930
Galerie Flechtheim, Berlin (possibly on consignment from the artist, 1931).
(possibly) Galerie Simon (Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler), Paris (1931).
Private collection, Paris.
Bernard Poissonier, Paris.
Daniel Filipacchi, New York.
Anon. sale, Sotheby's, New York, 11 May 1993, lot 30.
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.
P. Courthion, Klee, Paris, 1953 (illustrated, pl. 11).
G. di San Lazzaro, Klee, A Study of His Life and Work, London, 1957, pp. 271 and 296, no. 89 (illustrated).
J. Spiller, ed., Paul Klee, Notebooks, The Nature of Nature, London, 1970, vol. 2, p. 421.
T. Osterwold, Paul Klee. Die Ordnung der Dinge, Stuttgart, 1975, p. 128 (illustrated, fig. 251).
The Paul Klee Foundation, ed., Paul Klee, Catalogue raisonné, Bonn, 2001, vol. 5, p. 501, no. 5313 (illustrated).
Berlin, Galerie Flechtheim, Paul Klee. Neue Bilder und Aquarelle, November-December 1931, no. 33.
Stockholm, Nationalmuseum, 10 Nationer 24 Konstnärer, Utställning av Postkubistisk och Surrealistick Konst, October 1932, p. 15, no. 93.
Paris, Musée National d'Art Moderne, Paul Klee, November 1969-February 1970, p. 57, no. 91.


David Kleiweg de Zwaan
David Kleiweg de Zwaan


Executed in 1930 and first exhibited in Berlin at Galerie Flechtheim in 1931, Winterbild is a large and highly simplified winter-landscape where bright intersecting blocks of color separate the brilliant white snow from a vast gray-blue sky. These abstract chromatic elements, familiar from the Orphist components in Klee's pre-war work, serve as a unifying structure for the linear forms that comprise the landscape.

Klee was extremely sensitive to the timbre of various landscapes, and his diary repeatedly documents his response to the terrain; he also had assembled a diverse collection of botanical materials that he studied as a repertoire of forms. His goal, however, was not the mimetic translation of observed forms into art, but rather an analogy between nature and the artist's creative work, which in his view were subject to the same laws. He declared in his Creative Credo: "Art is a likeness of the Creation. It is sometimes an example, just as the terrestrial is an example of the cosmic" (quoted in W. Grohmann, Paul Klee, London, 1954 p. 181).

Klee was not interested in imitating the outward appearance of nature. Instead he wanted to create an art that springs from an inner, life giving creative process, which in turn would be preserved in the work. As Anke Daemgen noted, "In his efforts to fathom the secrets of nature, Klee was striving for a new act of creation, an analogy between nature and the artist's creative work, which in his view were subject to the same laws...The fascination with processes of change and metamorphosis, growth and movement that characterized all of Klee's work reached a climax in his artistic exploration of plants, gardens and landscapes" (quoted in D. Scholz and C. Thomson, ed., The Klee Universe, exh. cat., Staatliche Museen, Berlin, 2008, p. 207).