The Speed Art Museum has been taking advantage of the major construction and renovation project that has shuttered its main building for three years by assessing and restoring parts of its permanent collection. When Nashville-based paper conservator Christine Young received “Seven Blossoms,” a Paul Klee drawing from the Speed’s collection, and removed its original acidic paperboard mount to replace with safer material, she discovered a second, hidden piece of Klee’s on the reverse side.
“Seven Blossoms” was part of a 1998 bequest from long-time Speed supporters Major General Dillman A. Rash and Nancy Baton Rash. The gift also included pieces by Picasso, Chagall, Dubuffet and Maurice Utrillo.
From the release sent by the museum today:
The newly discovered watercolor (seen in above image) drawing depicts a town or village with stylized, geometric buildings set against a landscape. Triangles on the right evoke hills or mountains, while the circle and ovoid forms in the sky are reminiscent of the celestial bodies of the moon and stars that appear in Klee’s paintings from the 1910s and early 1920s.
To Young, it quickly became apparent that no one had seen the drawing on the reverse in nearly a century. “I realized that the last person to lay eyes on it was Klee,” observed Young.
The new piece will be on display in a double-sided frame with “Seven Blossoms” Friday (noon-6 p.m.) and Saturday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) at Local Speed, the museum’s Nulu satellite space (822 E. Market St.).
The German-Swiss painter Klee (1879-1940) taught at the Bauhaus school of art, design and architecture, and his lectures, collectively known as “Paul Klee Notebooks,” are considered foundational texts in modern art.