Barbarian Venus

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) 
Credit Line:
Norton Simon Museum, The Blue Four Galka Scheyer Collection 
Accession Number:
© 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.


The artist, sent 1924 to;
Galka Scheyer, who purchased it in 1930;
Pasadena Art Institute, Pasadena, 1953-1954;
Pasadena Art Museum, Pasadena,1954-1975;
Norton Simon Museum, 1975.

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