Paul Klee’s first ‘square pictures’ were created during his sojourn as an instructor at the Bauhaus in Weimar and Dessau. They are among the few fully non-representational compositions in his oeuvre.
In the uncharacteristically large Super-Chess, a later square picture from 1937, fields of black, white and grey constitute the basic pattern. Although the complementary colours red and blue apparently designate the opponent’s moves, the winner of the match is clear: the red ‘super-king’ has just felled the last of the opponent’s pieces. Whether Klee intended a reference to the totalitarian ferment of the late 1930s is unknown. What is certain, however, is that the National Socialists decried Klee’s art as ‘degenerate’ and confiscated over one hundred works from German museums in the year in which the picture was created. As early as 1933, the regime forced Klee to abandon his teaching post, whereupon he returned to Bern.


  • Title: Super-Chess
  • Creator: Paul Klee
  • Creator Lifespan: 1879 – 1940
  • Creator Death Place: Muralto
  • Creator Birth Place: Münchenbuchsee
  • Date Created: 1937
  • Physical Dimensions: 121 x 110 cm
  • Type: painting
  • External Link: Kunsthaus Zürich, Online Collection
  • Medium: Oil on jute
  • Art Movement: Abstract
  • Original title: Überschach
  • Inventory number: 2564
  • Credit line: Kunsthaus Zürich, 1941

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