Produced in 1927 while Klee was teaching at the Bauhaus in Dessau, Flora on Sand is an abstract water-colour which represents Klee’s main influences of cubism, expressionism and his interest in children’s art.
The dramatic squares reflect how far Klee had mastered colour theory by this time having explored the topic extensively in his writings and teaching. He said “Colour and I are one,” following his breakthrough in 1914 after he was inspired by the light on his visit to Tunisia. The relationship between his use of colour and shape is symbolic here.
Furthermore, the amalgamation of different pieces is indicative of the influence of mosaic Klee probably appreciated during his visits to Italy.
His first pure abstract paining, In the Style of Kairouan, produced immediately following his Tunisia epiphany, is a similar composition of coloured shapes using circles and rectangles. The most famous artist for abstract tiles was Dutchman Piet Mondrian.
Klee considered himself a transcendentalist, believing that the physical world was only one of a variety of possible of worlds open to human awareness and through the use of signs and symbols in abstract art a different awareness could exist.
Flora on Sand is a step further into the abstract for Klee, possibly another of the type of paintings that most impressed the French surrealists during an exhibition in Paris with the Blaue Vier.
The Blaue Vier (Blue Four) was set up in 1924 by Klee and three other masters alongside whom he taught at the German Bauhaus school of art, design and architecture: Alexay Jawlensky, his friend Wassily Kandinsky and Lionel Feininger.
The group held exhibitions together across the United States, Mexico and Germany primarily because they wanted to exhibit together and not because their work was similar. This painting is one of many produced at this most prolific time.