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First Drawing for "Specter of a Genius", 1922

Paul Klee

Swiss, 1879-1940
Ink on laid paper mounted on thin cardboard
sheet: 14-3/8 x 7-5/8 in. (36.5 x 19.4 cm); mount: 20-1/8 x 12-7/8 in. (51.1 x 32.7 cm)
Norton Simon Museum, The Blue Four Galka Scheyer Collection
P.1953.023
© Norton Simon Museum

Not on view

At an early age, Paul Klee was already exceptional as both a violinist and a draftsman. These two interests—music and drawing—would inform Klee’s works throughout his influential career. His unique art was founded on the basic element of the line, which he infused with a lyrical quality from the first. In fact, he preferred a graphic medium and did not take up painting until a decade into his art-making. His fantastical images display a mixed sensibility of humor, spirituality, naiveté and overall mystery, and his portraits are no different. In this self-portrait, Klee employs his distinctive line. With it, the artist disregards spatial recession and depth completely, creating lines that cross and overlap to describe bodies, clothes, facial features and even undergarments.


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