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Barbarian Venus, 1921

Paul Klee

Swiss, 1879-1940
Watercolor, gouache and oil transfer drawing on plaster primed linen, mounted on cardboard
comp: 16-1/4 x 10-5/8 in. (41.3 x 27.0 cm); mount: 17-5/8 x 12 in. (44.8 x 30.5 cm)
Norton Simon Museum, The Blue Four Galka Scheyer Collection
© 2011 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn Reproduction, including downloading of ARS works is prohibited by copyright laws and international conventions without the express written permission of Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Not on view

This androgynous Venus displays both female and male sexual organs. Her direct gaze confronts and challenges the viewer, and seemingly flaunts her dual sexuality. Paul Klee often used erotic imagery to represent facial features, or reversed the imagery, giving a face to the body. In Barbarian Venus, for example, the belly becomes a visual pun for creation, procreation and blatant, “barbaric” sexuality.

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