MoMA
Paul Klee. Portrait of an Equilibrist. 1927
Paul Klee

Portrait of an Equilibrist

1927
Not on view
Medium
Oil and collage on cardboard over wood with painted plaster border
Dimensions
24 7/8 x 15 3/4" (63.2 x 40 cm)
Credit
Mrs. Simon Guggenheim Fund
Object number
195.1966
Copyright
© 2015 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn

Here Klee has portrayed an artist as tightrope walker—an elongated stick figure with bent knee and outstretched arms. The figure strikes a precarious balance by adjusting the round balls or weights it holds. This set of lines and shapes, including the steps and yellow platform, can also be read as a face—the balls form eyes and the bent leg becomes a nose. Though painted, this linear composition embodies Klee's definition of drawing: "A line going for a walk."

Gallery label from 2006
Provenance information
On consignment from the artist to Rudolf Probst, Galerie Neue Kunst Fides, Dresden, 1927 [1]; on consignment from the artist to Galerie Alfred Flechtheim, Berlin, February 1928 [2]; [Erich Raemisch, Krefeld, 1929] [3]; on loan to The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1930 [4]; on consignment from the artist to Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler (Galerie Simon), Paris, by 1934 [5]; to Mayor Gallery, London, by 1934 [6]; sold to Roland Penrose (1900-1984), London/Muddles Green, May 1935 [7]; sold to G. David Thompson (1899-1965), Pittsburgh [8]; acquired by The Museum of Modern Art through Parke-Bernet Galleries, New York, March 23-24, 1966 (Mrs. Simon Guggenheim Fund) [9].

[1] Paul-Klee-Stiftung, Kunstmuseum Bern, eds. Paul Klee: catalogue raisonné. Bern: Benteli and New York: Thames and Hudson, vol. 5 (2001), no. 4226.
[2] Ibid. See Stefan Frey and Wolfgang Kersten, "Paul Klees geschäftliche Verbindung zur Galerie Alfred Flechtheim," Alfred Flechtheim: Sammler. Kunsthändler. Verleger, ed. by Hans Albert Peters, exh. cat. Kunstmuseum Düsseldorf, 1987, p. 79. Included in the following exhibitions: Paul Klee, Galerie Flechtheim, Berlin, March 18-Easter 1928, no. 23 (Artistenbildnis); Paul Klee, Galerie Flechtheim, Berlin, October 20-November 15, 1929 (no. 80); Paul Klee, Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen, Düsseldorf in cooperation with Galerie Flechtheim, June 14-July 6, 1931 (no. 45).
[3] Paul Klee: catalogue raisonné, vol. 5 (2001), no. 4226.
[4] Included in the exhibition Paul Klee, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, March 13-April 2, 1930 (no. 24). The catalogue notes on p. 13: "Unless otherwise indicated the paintings belong to the artist and are exhibited by arrangement with his representatives [Galerie Alfred Flechtheim, Berlin and J.B. Neumann, New York]."
[5] Paul Klee: catalogue raisonné, vol. 5 (2001), no. 4226.
[6] Label on verso with Mayor gallery number "MG 1613." Included in the exhibitions 20th Century Classics, The Mayor Gallery, London, February-March 1934 (Paul Klee, Portrait d'artiste); Paul Klee, The Mayor Gallery London, June 1935.
[7] Paul Klee: catalogue raisonné, vol. 5 (2001), no. 4226. On loan from Penrose to the exhibition Paul Klee: 1879-1940, National Gallery, London, December 1945-February 1946 (no. 132).
[8] Date of acquisition unknown.
[9] The Collection of Twentieth Century Paintings and Sculptures Formed by the Late G. David Thompson of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Parke-Bernet Galleries, New York, March 23-24, 1966 (no. 40).

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In order to effectively service requests for images, The Museum of Modern Art entrusts the licensing of images of works of art in its collections to the agencies Scala Archives and Art Resource. As MoMA’s representatives, these agencies supply high-resolution digital image files provided to them directly by the Museum's imaging studios.

All requests to reproduce works of art from MoMA's collection within North America (Canada, U.S., Mexico) should be addressed directly to Art Resource at 536 Broadway, New York, New York 10012. Telephone (212) 505-8700; fax (212) 505-2053; requests@artres.com; artres.com. Requests from all other geographical locations should be addressed directly to Scala Group S.p.A., 62, via Chiantigiana, 50012 Bagno a Ripoli/Firenze, Italy. Telephone 39 055 6233 200; fax 39 055 641124; firenze@scalarchives.com; scalarchives.com.

Requests for permission to reprint text from MoMA publications should be addressed to text_permissions@moma.org.

Related links:
Outside North America: Scala Archives
North America: Art Resource