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Triple Portrait, 1921

Paul Klee

Swiss, 1879-1940
Watercolor and India ink on heavy wove paper mounted on wove paper; mounted on cardboard, mounted (not by the artist) on cardboard
sheet: 6-1/8 x 5-7/8 in. (15.6 x 14.9 cm); mount: 7-3/4 x 6-1/2 in. (19.7 x 16.5 cm)
Norton Simon Museum, The Blue Four Galka Scheyer Collection
P.1953.051
© 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 Triple 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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