First Drawing for "Specter of a Genius"
Paul Klee (Swiss, 1879-1940)
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.


  • Artist Name: Paul Klee (Swiss, 1879-1940)
  • Title: First Drawing for "Specter of a Genius"
  • Date: 1922
  • Medium: Ink on laid paper mounted on thin cardboard
  • Dimensions: 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)
  • Credit Line: Norton Simon Museum, The Blue Four Galka Scheyer Collection
  • Accession Number: P.1953.023
  • Copyright: © Norton Simon Museum

Object Information

Paul Klee Memorial Exhibition [organized by MOMA]

  • San Francisco Museum of Art, 1941-04-14 to 1941-05-05
  • Pierce, James Smith, Paul Klee and Primitive Art, pp. 25, 126
  • Vishny, Michele, Psychoanalytic Perspectives on Art, p. 151
  • Paul Klee, p. 31
  • Paul Klee, p. 24
  • Klee, Felix, Paul Klee: Leben und Werk in Documenten, p. 77
  • Paul Klee Catalogue Raisonné, Volume 3, 1919-1922,no. 3017
  • Huggler, Max, Paul Klee: Die Malerei als Blick in den Kosmos, p. 11
  • Rosenthal, Mark, Paul Klee and the Arrow,fig. 52 pp. 66, 254
  • The Blue Four Galka Scheyer Collection, Norton Simon Museum of Art at Pasadena,no. 298 p. 124
  • Barnett, Vivian Endicott, The Blue Four Collection at the Norton Simon Museum,no. 326 p. 306
  • Grohmann, Will, Paul Klee: Handzeichnungen 1921-1930, p. 19
  • Grohmann, Will, Paul Klee, p. 63
  • Grohmann, Will, Paul Klee (1879-1940),pl. 4
  • Burnett, David R., Art International, pp. 15-17

Additional Artwork by Artist

Absorption Paul Klee 1919
Arabian Bride Paul Klee 1924
Galloping Horses Paul Klee 1912

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