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Fire in the Evening take Klee's tiling into new abstract territory
It is fair to say that Paul Klee's Egyptian sojourn in his twilight years helped to solidify his legacy, not only in Cubism and Expressionism, but also Suprematism.
Comparisons can be made between Klee's later "stratified" paintings and the stark minimal work of Kazimir Malevich.
Whereas Klee's earlier works took the line for a proverbial walk, it was with his later works Fire in the Evening (1929), Morgen Grau (1932) and Explosion de Peur III (1939) - works which blurred the already diminishing lines between figuration and abstraction - which distinguishes Klee as the archetypal Twentieth-Century High Modernist.
Fire in the Evening sees a mature Paul Klee contrast the abstraction found in nature with its ultimate return to reality. That is to say, a landscape between the wars, striated by nature and politics beginning to resemble the mechanical illusion of order and discipline as implied by the tenets of Modernism.
We see the muted blues, browns and oranges standing for the Nile and tilled Egyptian fields, and amongst this otherwise prosaic scene we see a vibrant orangey-red. The desert fire as it appears in the twilight.
The fire is literal, certainly, but ambiguously so: without wishing to posthumously bestow the gift of clairvoyance upon Klee, it is with hindsight that we can infer a double meaning in this bright rectangle of colour. The Fire in the Desert can now be read as both an actual campfire, or a foreshadowing of the incipient Second World War.
Regardless of our reading of the painting, Fire in the Evening remains a vital exemplar of Twentieth Century Modernism.