Senecio, 1922. Oil on canvas mounted on panel. Kunstmuseum, Basel.
This adaptation of the human face is divided by color into rectangles. Flat geometric squares are held within a circle representing a masked face and displaying the multi-colored costume of a harlequin. A portrait of the artist-performer Senecio, it can be seen as a symbol of the shifting relationship between art, illusion and the world of drama. This painting demonstrates Klee's principles of art, in which the graphic elements of line, color planes and space are set in motion by an energy from the artist's mind. In his imaginative doodlings, he liked, in his own words, to 'take a line for a walk'.
From 1921 to 1931 he was a brilliant teacher at the Bauhaus school of design, publishing many writings on his theory of art. Two years later the Nazis exiled him from Germany, when over 100 of his works were removed from German galleries as 'degenerate.' (Butler, Van Cleave, Stirling)