Ventriloquist and Crier in the Moor

Paul Klee (German (born Switzerland), Münchenbuchsee 1879–1940 Muralto-Locarno)

Watercolor and transferred printing ink on paper, bordered with ink, mounted on cardboard
15 1/4 x 11 in. (38.7 x 27.9 cm)
Credit Line:
The Berggruen Klee Collection, 1984
Accession Number:
  • Description

    Imaginery beasts float within a transparent ventriloquist who appears to be all belly-except, of course, for a pair of legs, tiny arms, and a sort of head without a mouth. The little creatures inside the ventriloquist might symbolize the odd noises and voices that seem to emanate from him. The moor is indicated by the background grid of warm earth colors that turns dark toward the center and against which the figure, as part of this grid, stands out like a light-colored bubble in clear reds and blues. As if attracted by the animal sounds above him, a stray fish is about to enter a net dangling from the lower part of the ventriloquist's anatomy-perhaps to join the menagerie within.

  • Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings

    Inscription: Signed (upper right): Klee; dated and inscribed on cardboard (lower center): 1923.103 Bauchredner und Rufer im Moor; (lower left): VIII

  • Exhibition History

    Munich: Haus Der Kunst München, May 20-August 14, 1994. ¦Elan Vital oder Das Auge Des Eros¦. Exh. cat. no. 333, Abb. 94 (illus. in color).

    Berlin, Germany: Neue Nationalgalerie Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, June 4, 1998 - October 18, 1998. ¦Klee aus New York: Hauptwerke der Sammlung Berggruen Im Metropolitan Museum of Art¦, Cat. no. 25, pp. 106, 137, illus. in color.

    Cologne: Museum Ludwig, November 5, 1999 - March 19, 2000. ¦Kunstwelten im Dialog: Von Gauguin zur globalen Gegenwart¦. no. 217.

    Berlin. Neue Nationalgalerie. "Das Universum Klee (The Klee Universe)," October 31, 2008–February 8, 2009, unnumbered cat. (p. 179).

  • References

    Carl Einstein. Die Kunst des 20.Jahrhunderts. Berlin, 1931, pp. 215, 646, ill. p. 538.

    Staatliche Museen zu Berlin Preussischer Kulturbesitz. Klee aus New York: Hauptwerke der Sammlung Berggruen Im Metropolitan Museum of Art. Exh. cat., 1998. p.19.

    Josef Helfenstein and Christian Rümelin, eds. Paul Klee: Catalogue Raisonné. Vol. 4, 1923–1926. Ed. Paul Klee Foundation, Museum of Fine Arts, Berne. New York, 2000, pp. 76, 95, no. 3197, ill. (color and bw).

  • See also