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Astrological Fantasy Portrait

21 november 2019
Margi Geerlinks
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Astrological Fantasy Portrait is a gouache painting created by Paul Klee in 1924. It lives at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The image is available via institutional open content, and tagged portraits. The planets and stars in a fantasy portrait as painted by Paul Klee.

In 1919, Klee applied for a teaching post at the Academy of Art in Dusseldorf. This attempt failed but he had a major success in securing a three-year contract (with a minimum annual income) with dealer Hans Goltz, whose influential gallery gave Klee major exposure, and some commercial success. A retrospective of over 300 works in 1920 was also notable.

Klee taught at the Bauhaus from January, 1921 to April, 1931. He was a “Form” master in the bookbinding, stained glass, and mural painting workshops and was provided with two studios. In 1922, Kandinsky joined the staff and resumed his friendship with Klee. Later that year the first Bauhaus exhibition and festival was held, for which Klee created several of the advertising materials. And in the same year, the first series of Bauhaus books is published with works by Gropius (International Architecture), Paul Klee, Adolf Meyer, Oskar Schlemmer, and Piet Mondrian. Klee welcomed that there were many conflicting theories and opinions within the Bauhaus: “I also approve of these forces competing one with the other if the result is achievement.”

Klee was also a member of Die Blaue Vier (The Blue Four), with Kandinsky, Feininger, and Jawlensky; formed in 1923, they lectured and exhibited together in the USA in 1925. That same year, Klee had his first exhibits in Paris, and he became a hit with the French Surrealists. Klee visited Egypt in 1928, which impressed him less than Tunisia. In 1929, the first major monograph on Klee’s work was published, written by Will Grohmann.

Klee also taught at the Dusseldorf Academy from 1931 to 1933, and was singled out by a Nazi newspaper, “Then that great fellow Klee comes onto the scene, already famed as a Bauhaus teacher in Dessau. He tells everyone he’s a thoroughbred Arab, but he’s a typical Galician Jew.” His home was searched by the Gestapo and he was fired from his job. His self-portrait Struck from the List(1933) commemorates the sad occasion. In 1933-4, Klee had shows in London and Paris, and finally met Pablo Picasso, whom he greatly admired. The Klee family emigrated to Switzerland in late 1933.

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