Paul Klee. Mask of Fear. 1932
Paul Klee

Mask of Fear

1932
Not on view
Medium
Oil on burlap
Dimensions
39 5/8 x 22 1/2" (100.4 x 57.1 cm)
Credit
Nelson A. Rockefeller Fund
Object number
854.1978
Copyright
© 2015 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn
Department
Painting and Sculpture

This curious personage, with four small spindly legs supporting a visage of stunned eyes and a quizzical smirk or handlebar moustache, offers a satiric take on the work's grim title. Inspired by a Zuni war god sculpture that Klee saw at an ethnological museum, it was painted on the eve of Hitler's assumption of power in Germany, a year after Klee left the Bauhaus for a professorship at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf. The two sets of legs suggest that two figures might be supporting and hiding behind this monumental carnival-style mask, an arrangement related to Klee's metaphorical statement, "The mask represents art, and behind it hides man."

Gallery label from 2006

Provenance Research Project
This work is included in the Provenance Research Project, which investigates the ownership history of works in MoMA's collection.
On consignment from the artist to Galerie Alfred Flechtheim, Berlin, 1932 [1]; to Galerie Simon (Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler), Paris, by 1934 [2]; Buchholz Gallery (Curt Valentin), New York [3]; sold to Allan (1906-1975) and Beatrice Roos, New York and San Francisco, by 1940 [4]; acquired by The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1978 (Nelson A. Rockefeller Fund).
[1] Paul-Klee-Stiftung, Kunstmuseum Bern, eds. Paul Klee: catalogue raisonné. Bern: Benteli and New York: Thames and Hudson, vol. 6 (2002), no. 5982. Included in the exhibition Lebendige deutsche Kunst, organized by Paul Cassirer and Alfred Flechtheim, Berlin, December 10, 1932-mid-January, 1933 (no. 55: Maske Furcht).
[2] Ibid. Included in the exhibition Paul Klee, Galerie Simon, Paris, June 12-25, 1934 (no. 59). Also included in The International Surrealist Exhibition, New Burlington Galleries, June 11 - July 4, 1936 (no. 148) and Fantastic Art, Dada and Surrealism, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, December 7, 1936-January 17, 1937 (no. 244). Lender: Galerie Simon, Paris.
[3] Paul Klee: catalogue raisonné, vol. 6 (2002), no. 5982.
[4] Paul Klee, Buchholz Galleries-Willard Gallery, New York, October 9-November 2, 1940 (no. 73): "Collection: Mr. Allan Roos, New York."

If you have any questions or information to provide about the listed works, please e-mail provenance@moma.org or write to:

Provenance Research Project
The Museum of Modern Art
11 West 53 Street
New York, NY 10019

Pictured above: Vasily Kandinsky. Panel for Edwin R. Campbell No. 2 (detail). 1914. Oil on canvas, 64 1/8 x 48 3/8" (162.6 x 122.7 cm). Nelson A. Rockefeller Fund (by exchange). © 2009 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris

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Image permissions

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