"Die Schattige (The Shadowy One)", 1939
Watercolour on Japan paper, mounted on paperboard
Drawing 11.61 x 8.19 in / framed 23.62 x 20.47 in
Signed "Klee" top centre,
Dated on cardboard centre bottom, inscribed
"1939 E die Schattige"
Photographic expertise Paul-Klee-Stiftung, Kunstmuseum Bern, 1996
Cat. Rais. Vol.8, No.8180,
Page 222 with reproduction
- with craftsman's frame -
Über das Werk
"I cannot be grasped in the here and now", remarked Paul Klee (1879-1940), articulating his artistic credo, which aspired to “making the invisible visible". Predicated on his own set of creative principles, he began in the mid-1910s to fashion an individual pictorial reality in which fantastical and dream-like worlds, dominated by sketch-like abstract forms, luminous colours and dynamic contours, reveal themselves to the viewer. During his life, Klee was permanently engaged in a quest for a new autonomous freedom of artistic expression, extending beyond the known and familiar of external reality. His desire to intellectually interrogate what we see and experience around us, and to explore the hidden inner world beyond in a state of raised consciousness is reified in exemplary fashion by the water-colour "The Shadowy One", which Klee painted a year before his death, and which accordingly is among his last works. Branded as “degenerate” in 1933 and suffering from serious illness since 1935, he began from 1939 to increase his productivity substantially, creating some 1300 works - more than ever before. This expressive water-colour reveals the artist's undiminished creative zest: Compact coloured zones in shimmering-transparent hues are bounded by flowing lines to conjure a sensual and subtle, yet vibrant and evocative confection of colour. The specific title of the painting "The Shadowy One" permits us to venture a motif-based interpretation of the work. Consequently, on the left-side of the painting, a violet-coloured head can be discerned, whose startled eyes are seeking visual contact with the viewer. Richly associative in their dimensions, the remaining segments alternate between the figurative and the topographical. A playful openness, allied to a childlike, naive simplification of form formulate Klee's characteristic visual language: A keen focus on the elementary basic forms and the interaction between surface and space; on the harmony between colour and line, and on the inherent tension between stasis and rhythm. A parallel level of the perception of reality is being forged here in which the subject is transmuted into a mysterious sign language and conjuring its very own distinct and silent magic. Abounding in a richness of colour and form, this sheet illustrates Klee's desire to give expression to the authentic and the pristine. Accordingly, this work articulates the fundamental principles of the Expressionist movement and their key buzzwords, such as transformation, renewal and intensity, reveal themselves directly to the viewer.