Magic Garden was executed in 1926, the year Paul Klee resumed teaching at the Bauhaus at its new location in Dessau. During his Bauhaus period he articulated and taught a complex theoretical program that was supported and clarified by his painting and drawing. Theory, in turn, served to elucidate his art. Based on probing investigation and carefully recorded observation, his work in both areas reveals analogies among the properties of natural, of man-made, and of geometric forms.
Studies of plants illustrating growth processes appear often in Klee’s notebooks as well as in his paintings and drawings. He was also interested in architecture and combined images of buildings with vegetal forms in Magic Garden and several other works of 1926. Pictorial motifs often arise from geometric exercises: the goblet shape that dominates the lower center of this composition appeared also in a nonrepresentational drawing exploring the development from point to line to surface to volume.
The surface Klee creates with the medium of Magic Garden resembles that of a primordial substance worn and textured by its own history. A cosmic eruption seems to have spewed forth forms that are morphologically related but differentiated into various genera. Although excused from the laws of gravity, each of these forms occupies a designated place in a new universe, simultaneously as fixed and mobile as the orbits of planets or the nuclei of organic cells. Klee’s cosmic statements are gleefully irreverent; he writes of his work: “Ethical gravity rules, along with hobgoblin laughter at the learned ones.”̯
1. Quoted in W. Grohmann, Paul Klee, New York, 1954, p. 191.