Ventriloquist and Crier in the Moor

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

Date: 1923

Medium: Watercolor and transferred printing ink on paper, bordered with ink, mounted on cardboard

Dimensions: 16 1/2 × 11 5/8 in. (41.9 × 29.5 cm)

Classification: Drawings

Credit Line: The Berggruen Klee Collection, 1984

Accession Number: 1984.315.35


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.