Paul Klee. Mask of Fear. 1932

Paul Klee Mask of Fear 1932

Floor 5, Collection Galleries

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
© 2018 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn
Department
Painting and Sculpture