Drohender Schneesturn, no. 291 [Threatening Snowstorm]
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Drohender Schneesturn, no. 291 [Threatening Snowstorm] 1927
Klee’s technique of ‘taking a line for a walk’ allowed his hand to be free from rational control, creating the starting point for new images. Here, the labyrinth of interlocking horizontal and vertical lines is turned into a town by the simple addition of a roof. In this context, the delicately-sprayed clouds of pink and blue paint in the background become a dense snowstorm. Klee’s works had an enormous influence on the Surrealists (Masson and Miró, in particular), because they provided an example of how automatism could be used in art. This work was acquired by a private collector from the first exhibition of Klee’s work held in a public gallery in Britain, at the Royal Scottish Academy in Edinburgh in December 1934. It was later bequeathed to the National Galleries of Scotland.

Glossary Open

Automatism

A painting or drawing process that aims to suppress rational thought, allowing the subconscious to take control. This spontaneous approach is associated with Surrealism and Abstract Expressionism.

Royal Scottish Academy

The Royal Scottish Academy (RSA) was formed in Edinburgh in 1826 by Scottish artists who felt alienated by what they perceived as the elitism of the Royal Institution and its management of contemporary art exhibitions. In 1835, the RSA secured exhibition rights in the Royal Institution building, which had been erected on The Mound by the Board of Manufactures in 1826. The RSA and the Board frequently argued over responsibilities for advanced art education. From 1859, the RSA shared the premises of the new National Gallery of Scotland under the Board’s custody. In 1910, after transferring most of its art collections to the Gallery, the RSA gained exclusive tenancy of the former Royal Institution building, where it continues to hold large-scale annual exhibitions.

Surrealism

A literary and artistic movement founded by the poet André Breton in 1924. Many of the associated artists, such as Max Ernst and Jean Arp, had previously been involved with Dadaism. The movement sought to challenge conventions through the exploration of the subconscious mind, invoking the power of dreams and elements of chance. Cultural hierarchies were challenged by the combination of diverse elements in collages and sculptural assemblages. The movement is also notable for the collaborations between artists and writers evident in the Surrealists' many publications.

Automatism, Royal Scottish Academy, Surrealism

Details

  • Acc. No. GMA 1015
  • Medium Pen and coloured inks and watercolour on paper laid on card
  • Size 49.90 x 31.60 cm
  • Credit Bequeathed by Miss Anna G. Blair in memory of Mr R.K. Blair, 1952