Bewegung der Kamine (Movement of the Chimneys), 1915
Hans Goltz, Munich, by 1920.
Curt Valentin (Bucholz Gallery & Valentin Gallery), Berlin & New York.
Anne Urquhart, New York.
Saidenberg Gallery, New York.
Galerie Tarica, Geneva & Paris, from 1970.
Jacques Benador, Geneva.
Private Collection, Switzerland, acquired from the above.
Private Collection, Switzerland, by descent from the above in 2008.
Anon. sale; Christie’s, London, 24 June 2015, lot 178.
Art du 20e siècle, collections genevoises, exh. cat., Musée Rath & Cabinet des Estampes, Geneva, 1973, no. 68 (illus. p. 95).
The Paul Klee Foundation (ed.), Paul Klee, Catalogue raisonné, vol. 2, 1913 – 1918, Bern, 2000, no. 1366 (illus. p. 228).
Paul Klee: The Abstract Dimension, exh. cat., Fondation Beyeler, Basel, 2017, pp. 36 & 216 (illus. p. 103).
Munich, Galerie Neue Kunst Hans Goltz, Paul Klee, May – June 1920, no. 93.
Geneva, Musée Rath & Cabinet des Estampes, Art du 20e siècle, collections genevoises, June – Sept. 1973, no. 68.
Basel, Fondation Beyeler, Paul Klee: The Abstract Dimension, 1 Oct. 2017 – 21. Jan. 2018.
Bewegung der Kamine (Movement of the Chimneys) is a complex and integrated semi-abstract watercolour-landscape from 1915 that reflects Klee’s absorption of important avant-garde influences, and marks the full maturation in his art that took place in the aftermath of his journey to Tunisia in 1914. Executed during the second year of the Great War, Bewegung der Kamine is a work that, despite the dramatic progress in Klee’s art during this period, was painted against an atmosphere of increasing gloom. The painting’s crystalline break-up of form into a series of playful ‘magic squares’ of ‘joyful colour’, underscored by a rich band of gold along the lower edge, is reflective of the artist’s desire to escape from the trauma of the times. As he confided to his diary at this time, ‘One deserts the realm of the here and now to transfer one’s activity into a realm of the yonder where total affirmation is possible. Abstraction. The cool Romanticism of this style without pathos is unheard of. The more horrible this world (as today, for instance), the more abstract our art, whereas a happy world brings forth an art of the here and now. Today is a transition from yesterday. In the great pit of forms lie broken fragments to some of which we still cling. They provide abstraction with its material’ (‘Diary Entry no. 951, 1915’, in F. Klee, ed., The Diaries of Paul Klee, London, 1964, p. 313).
In its Cubistic abstraction of the architectural forms of the titular chimneys, Bewegung der Kamine is a work that illustrates how Klee fused the constructive principles of Cubism with the colour theory of Robert Delaunay to create a new, simple but articulate language representing Nature in abstract terms but without completely departing from objective reality. As a harmonious tapestry of abstract form and colour Bewegung der Kamine can also be seen to correspond to the similar principles of tonal harmony and composition that characterised Klee’s beloved Baroque music. Exploring the relationship between art and music, Klee often attempted to create pictorial ‘fugues’ and famously expressed his desire to be able to ‘improvise freely on the keyboard of rows of watercolour cups’ (‘Diary Entry no. 873’, in op. cit., p. 244).