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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
P.1953.062
© Norton Simon Museum

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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