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Aviatic Evolution

Paul Klee, Swiss, 1879–1940
Oil on canvas mounted on Masonite
Made in
Western Europe, Switzerland, Europe
Current Location
On View, Gallery 212
16 3/8 x 19 1/2 in. (41.6 x 49.5 cm)
framed: 25 1/8 x 28 1/16 x 2 3/8 in. (63.8 x 71.3 x 6 cm)
Credit Line
Gift of Morton D. May
Public Domain
Object Number
Paul Klee shows a bird in flight with a tiny head, deep red neck, and wide outstretched wings rendered in sweeping veils of color. The artist associated birds and their free movement with detachment from earthly concerns; he even compared them to angels. Klee used the coarser, reverse side of a commercially prepared canvas, contrasting its rough surface with thin, translucent paint glazes. Inspired by the drawings of children, Klee explored the unconscious as a means to access primal artistic impulses.
- 1939
Galerie Simon (Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler), Paris, France [1]

1939 -
Nierendorf Gallery (Karl Nierendorf), New York, NY, USA, acquired from Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler [2]

Prescott Collection [3]

by 1948 -
Mrs. Gerald Breckenridge, Beverly Hills, CA [4]

- 1953
Paul Kantor Gallery, Los Angeles, CA

1953 - 1954
Morton D. May (1914-1983), St. Louis, MO, purchased from Paul Kantor Gallery [5]

1954 -
Saint Louis Art Museum, given by Morton D. May [6]

[1] Confirmed through archival material (correspondence and a shipping list dated November 17, 1939) by Eva Wiederkehr Sladeczek, head of the Paul Klee catalogue raisonné project at the Kunstmuseum Bern [email dated July 1, 2002, SLAM document files].

[2] See note [1].

[3] See note [1].

[4] Mrs. Gerald Breckenridge is listed as the lender in a 1948 exhibition ["Klee – 30 Years” The Modern Institute of Art, Beverly Hills, CA, 1948, cat. 22].

[5] May purchased the painting from Paul Kantor Gallery on March 11, 1953 [Bill of sale, SLAM document files].

[6] Minutes of the Administrative Board of Control of the City Art Museum, December 9, 1954.
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