Exhibit B: Paul Klee Traveling Circus 1937

photo of painting: Paul Klee. Traveling Circus. 1937. Bequest of Saidie A. May. 1951.317

Paul Klee. Traveling Circus. 1937. The Baltimore Museum of Art: Bequest of Saidie A. May, BMA 1951.317
A one-eyed clown wearing a sombrero, a female acrobat, and a donkey all appear before a circus tent with pennants flying. Paul Klee used subtle tones and a stippled technique to create this whimsical nocturnal scene. It is hard to reconcile the childlike playfulness of the drawing with the political events of 1937. During that year, Nazis seized 102 of Klee’s works from museums and public collections, and included seventeen of these works in the “Degenerate Art Exhibition” in Munich intended to ridicule modern art. Perhaps “Traveling Circus” alludes to the artist’s own unsettled situation, as he had been forced to leave Germany and was living in Swiss exile at the time he executed this picture.
Saidie Adler May’s older sister Blanche Adler was an early advocate of German Expressionism and of Klee’s work in particular. In the early 1930s, she had donated two of Klee’s watercolors and a print to the BMA. May acquired Traveling Circus in October of 1940 and Adler, seriously ill, died only three months later. The purchase may have been meant as a tribute to her favorite sister, since it was somewhat outside May’s usual collecting area.

By Peter O’Connor

The bulrushes rustled; the maiden tiptoed closer.

Newborns lay mewing, their eyes shut.

“Wolves!” she gasped.

The princess paused from washing off the mud to pull back the rushes.

“Coyotes,” she corrected, “My brother was raised by wolves. I recognize a coyote cry from a wolf any day.”

The handmaiden whispered, as to not startle, “Remember, a pirate wears a sombrero and does not lose his glasses. A man’s heart will pine until one gives him a swift kick in the ass to find his heart’s true deseo.” Her astronomy with animal totem beliefs became a quilt for Frida Kahlo’s memory.

Read the rest of the continuing story…

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on TumblrEmail this to someoneShare on Google+

6 thoughts on “Exhibit B: Paul Klee Traveling Circus 1937

  1. Peter O'Connor

    The bulrushes rustled; the maiden tiptoed closer.

    Newborns lay mewing, their eyes shut.

    “Wolves!” she gasped.

    The princess paused from washing off the mud to pull back the rushes.

    “Coyotes,” she corrected, “My brother was raised by wolves. I recognize a coyote cry from a wolf any day.”

    The handmaiden whispered, as to not startle, “Remember, a pirate wears a sombrero and does not lose his glasses. A man’s heart will pine until one gives him a swift kick in the ass to find his heart’s true deseo.” Her astronomy with animal totem beliefs became a quilt for Frida Kahlo’s memory.

    Vote(4)

  2. Suse

    In the basket, a tiny boychild snuggled; hands clenched into small fists; his skin unblemished, but for a small birthmark in the shape in the shape of an eye on his shoulder.

    The Princess gasped with shock. Then pain. Suddenly - too quickly - her own babe was rushing to the world.

    She fell. An anguished cry. Mirrored fists clenched; his and hers.

    Blood.

    ...An arrival!
    A daughter.
    A girlchild.

    A disappointment.
    ...The eye-shaped mark on the boy's shoulder seemed, for a moment, to wink.

    Vote(2)
  3. JAN FERGUSON

    Hurry
    Get into the bed Princess
    We have the sheets covered in blood
    Cry - scream
    Here is the child he has always wanted
    His heir

    No one will ever know the truth
    The true mother has been put to her death

    But has she
    A very handsome man wearing a old drity sombrero is near enough to hear
    He was to take care of the real mother
    Did he?
    Does he know the true father?

    Vote(0)
  4. Rhiannon

    The princess stepped closer, following the noise, and saw that the basket was not a basket, but instead a large woven straw hat unlike any she had seen before. Around the strange hat, the grass was flat, trampled. Whose footprints?

    Timidly, the princess lifted the hat and at once, heard the laughter again, and the moaning melody of an accordion.

    With each beat, her baby kicked. She smiled.

    Then no, the music was too loud, the kicks too hard. As she turned to call her handmaiden, darkness.

    Vote(3)
  5. Pingback: She Poses for Moses, Erroneously(with apologies to Mr. Kelly and Mr. O’Conner) | BMA Blog

  6. Pingback: She Poses for Moses, Erroneously (with apologies to Mr. Kelly and Mr. O’Conner), the final pages… | BMA Blog

Entries are closed.