Paul Klee. Mask of Fear. 1932

Paul Klee Mask of Fear 1932

  • Not on view

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.
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
© 2021 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn
Department
Painting and Sculpture

Installation views

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Provenance Research Project

This work is included in the Provenance Research Project, which investigates the ownership history of works in MoMA's collection.

1932, Paul Klee, Düsseldorf.
1932 - 1933, Galerie Alfred Flechtheim, Düsseldorf/Berlin, acquired on consignment from the artist.
1933 - at least January 1937, Galerie Simon (Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler), Paris, acquired on consignment from the artist.
[Buchholz Gallery (Curt Valentin), New York]
By 1940 - 1977, Allan (1906-1975) and Beatrice Roos, New York and San Francisco.
1978, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, purchased from a beneficiary of the Estate of Beatrice Roos.

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