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In the Magic Mirror

A work made of oil on canvas, on board.
© 2018 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn

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  • A work made of oil on canvas, on board.




Paul Klee
German, born Switzerland, 1879–1940

About this artwork

In the Magic Mirror reflects the disillusionment that colored much of Paul Klee’s work following the Nazi takeover of Germany in 1933 and the artist’s subsequent move to his native Switzerland.
Illustrating what Klee called his method of “taking a line for a walk,” a meandering red line twists and turns down the center of the canvas, delineating the features of a face. The tight curves on the brow suggest the figure is concentrating, while the tension between the nose and mouth, which pull in opposite directions, conveys anxiety. In contrast to the cheerful pink cheeks, the figure’s tear-shaped eyes communicate distress. The thinly painted, ghostly outline of the head and shoulders is in contrast to the crisp rendering of the face. Klee paints the heart, the true creative center, black, thereby suggesting the pall that settled over this figure, and by extension, the artist at this time.


Currently Off View


Modern Art


Paul Klee


In the Magic Mirror


Germany (Artist's nationality:)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.



Oil on canvas, on board




66 × 50 cm (26 × 19 3/4 in.)

Credit Line

Bequest of Claire Zeisler

Reference Number



© 2018 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn

Extended information about this artwork

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