© President and Fellows of Harvard College
Identification and Creation
Object Number
Paul Klee, Swiss (Münchenbuchsee near Bern, Switzerland 1879 - 1940 Muralto-Locarno, Switzerland)
Slightly Dry Poem
Other Titles
Original Language Title: Leicht Trockenes Gedicht
Work Type
album leaf, drawing
Physical Descriptions
Oil and pastel on burlap, mounted on card
burlap, irregular: 58.5 x 45 cm (23 1/16 x 17 11/16 in.)
mount: 68.9 x 50 cm (27 1/8 x 19 11/16 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • Signed: Titled, numbered and dated on mount in ink: 1938. T12 leicht trockenes Gedicht
  • label: removed from backing board: Busch-Reisinger Museum / Cambridge, Mass. / Loan no. 130.1966 / Lender Mr. & Mrs. F. B. Deknatel / Cambridge, Mass
  • label: removed from backing board: Hasenkamp / Koln - Bonn - Dusseldorf / Leicht trockenes Gedicht / 60 x 46 cm / Kunstler: P. Klee / Frankreich / Leihgeber: Berggruen & CIE
  • label: removed from backing board: International Art Transport / 60, Rue Saint-Sabin Paris XIe / ROQuette: 69-92 / 1620 / Los Angeles
  • label: removed from backing board: 16 Fogg Art Museum Deknatel loan labels with the following numbers: 18714.7, 20553.12, 18296.1, 17586.11, 16967.7, 16259.5, 15740.6, 40710.1, 28427.4, 25539.4, 24051.7, 21518.3, 22157.1, 27146.4, 22712.1, 24807.3
  • (not assigned): Inscription on verso, u.l., in artist's hand: 1938T21 leicht trockenes Gedicht
    On backing board: 15 loan labels for temporary loan to the Fogg Art Museum, 1 loan label for temporary loan to Busch-Reisinger Museum (130.1966)
Rolf and Catherine E. Buergi, Bern
Max Huggeler, Bern (until 1963)
Berggruen & Cie (1963-1965)
Professor and Mrs. Frederick B. Deknatel (acq. 1965)
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Busch-Reisinger Museum, Bequest of Virginia H. Deknatel in memory of Professor and Mrs. Charles Kuhn
© Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn
Accession Year
Object Number
Modern and Contemporary Art
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Label Text: 32Q: 1520 Art in Germany Between the Wars (Interwar and Bauhaus) , written 2014
These works reflect Klee’s dual interest in abstract, symbolic forms and simplified, pictorial compositions, often in combination. In Slightly Dry Poem, Klee invents a whimsical sign language akin to hieroglyphics, while in Hot Pursuit (1955.66), a hunter stalks his prey, in a style that recalls prehistoric drawings. Fired from his teaching position in Düsseldorf for being a “degenerate artist” after the Nazis came to power in 1933, Klee returned to his native Switzerland, where his final years, plagued by a rare and fatal disease, were also some of his most productive. The artist experimented widely in this period, evident here in the use of earthy and tactile materials like rough burlap and thickly applied gesso. From 1921 to 1931, Klee had taught elementary design theory at the Bauhaus. One of his most loyal students there was Anni Albers, whose textile hangs on the adjacent wall and likewise combines abstract and pictorial forms with inspiration from distant cultures.

Publication History

Paul Klee, Josef Helfenstein, and Christian Rümelin, Paul Klee, catalogue raisonné, Paul-Klee Stiftung Kunstmuseum Bern (Bern, Switzerland, 1998-2004), vol. 7, p. 458, cat. no. 7514

Exhibition History

Paul Klee, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 04/17/1993 - 06/13/1993

HAA 10 Survey Course (S421): The Western Tradition: Art Since the Renaissance (Fall 10 Rotation 3), Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 11/12/2010 - 01/15/2011

32Q: 1520 Art in Germany Between the Wars (Interwar and Bauhaus), Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 05/06/2015 - 07/07/2015

Subjects and Contexts

Collection Highlights

The Bauhaus

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of Modern and Contemporary Art at am_moderncontemporary@harvard.edu