MoMA
Paul Klee. Around the Fish. 1926
Paul Klee

Around the Fish

1926
On view
Medium
Oil and tempera on canvas mounted on cardboard
Dimensions
18 3/8 x 25 1/8" (46.7 x 63.8 cm)
Credit
Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Fund
Object number
271.1939
Copyright
© 2015 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn

A garnished platter of fish is surrounded by a constellation of seemingly disparate elements—a cross, full and crescent moons, an exclamation point, a forked red flag—all hovering against a dark abyss. Some of Klee's iconography grew out of his teaching; the arrow, which he initially used as a teaching tool to indicate force and emotion for his students at the Bauhaus, here points confrontationally towards a stylized head, possibly alluding to human consciousness. Although they are often enigmatic, Klee believed his personal hieroglyphs and figurative elements had wider connotations: "The object grows beyond its appearance through our knowledge of its inner being, through the knowledge that the thing is more than its outward aspect suggests."

Gallery label from 2006
Provenance information
Gemäldegalerie, Dresden, 1926 [1]; removed as "degenerate art" by the Reich Ministry for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda, 1937 [2]; on consignment to Karl Buchholz, Berlin, 1939; to Buchholz Gallery (Curt Valentin), New York, 1939; acquired by The Museum of Modern Art, New York, April 13, 1939 (Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Fund) [3].
[1] Paul-Klee-Stiftung, Kunstmuseum Bern, eds. Paul Klee: catalogue raisonné. Bern: Benteli and New York: Thames and Hudson, vol. 4 (2000), no. 4075. Acquired from the exhibition Internationale Kunstausstellung, Städtischer Ausstellungspalast Dresden, Juni-September, 1926 (no. 528). Before the painting was removed from the collection in 1937, it was included as "degenerate art" in the exhibition Entartete Kunst at the Neues Rathaus, Dresden, September 23, 1933-October 18, 1933; at the Städtische Galerie, Nürnberg, September 7, 1935-September 21, 1935; and at the Haus der Kunst, Dortmund, November 11, 1935-December 8, 1935 (see Beschlagnahmeinventar "Entartete Kunst", "Degenerate Art" Research Center, FU Berlin).
[2] EK no. 15982: Um den Fisch. Included in the exhibition Entartete Kunst, Hofgarten-Arkaden, Munich, July 19-November 30, 1937 and other venues (Berlin, Leipzig, Düsseldorf, Salzburg).
[3] Included in the exhibition Art in Our Time, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, May 10- September 30, 1939 (no. 182).

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Image permissions

In order to effectively service requests for images, The Museum of Modern Art entrusts the licensing of images of works of art in its collections to the agencies Scala Archives and Art Resource. As MoMA’s representatives, these agencies supply high-resolution digital image files provided to them directly by the Museum's imaging studios.

All requests to reproduce works of art from MoMA's collection within North America (Canada, U.S., Mexico) should be addressed directly to Art Resource at 536 Broadway, New York, New York 10012. Telephone (212) 505-8700; fax (212) 505-2053; requests@artres.com; artres.com. Requests from all other geographical locations should be addressed directly to Scala Group S.p.A., 62, via Chiantigiana, 50012 Bagno a Ripoli/Firenze, Italy. Telephone 39 055 6233 200; fax 39 055 641124; firenze@scalarchives.com; scalarchives.com.

Requests for permission to reprint text from MoMA publications should be addressed to text_permissions@moma.org.

Related links:
Outside North America: Scala Archives
North America: Art Resource