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Clown Paintings

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The world needs its clowns. It's the clowns of society who make us laugh—sometimes—and who help us view our lives with greater clarity and perspective. Bigger than life, with their exaggerated features and makeup, dressed in their gaudily mismatched and hilariously oversized outfits, clowns refuse to be overlooked. And yet, the portrait of the clown has been all but ignored. Trained to respond respectfully to serious portraiture, we try to read meaning into their big mouths, prosthetic noses, and unruly tufts of ...
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Overview

The world needs its clowns. It's the clowns of society who make us laugh—sometimes—and who help us view our lives with greater clarity and perspective. Bigger than life, with their exaggerated features and makeup, dressed in their gaudily mismatched and hilariously oversized outfits, clowns refuse to be overlooked. And yet, the portrait of the clown has been all but ignored. Trained to respond respectfully to serious portraiture, we try to read meaning into their big mouths, prosthetic noses, and unruly tufts of hair. Ultimately, the paintings are mysteries: what did amateur artists, who lavished so much time on these iconic images, hope to capture and accomplish?

Clown Paintings is a twisty little illustrated book that showcases 65 outrageous and compelling clown portraits, painted by amateurs and selected by actor-director Diane Keaton. By turns hilarious and heartfelt, joyful and mortifying, these artworks were collected over the years by Keaton, who found herself as mesmerized by their mute eloquence as she was by their bad taste. It's easy to see what drew Keaton to them. They embody contradiction; they're fabulous and horrible, hysterical and dignified, generic yet absolutely specific. And above all—in the grand clown tradition—way out there. The clowns, from whom we expect mischievous, out-of-control behavior, are painted as solemn and decorous subjects to contemplate. Instead of distracting us with brooms, squawking horns, rubber mallets, and slapstick humor, we get the chance to look at them carefully—and to consider how they not only make us laugh, but how they allow us to look more closely at ourselves. And to contemplate the abyss.

PLUS! Clown Paintings includes commentary and observations from America's to comedians and clowns: Woody Allen, Carrol Burnett, Phyllis Diller, Whoopi Goldberg, Eric Idle, Lida Kudrow, Jay Leno, Jerry Lewis, Penny Marshall, Steve Martin, Martin Short, Ben Stiller, Dick Van Dyke, Robin Williams, and more!

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This odd book is as much a look into the dark heart of Hollywood narcissism and juice as it is an excellent introduction to a grim, fascinating artistic subgenre. Keaton writes in her introduction that she came across a Don Barclay clown painting at a Pasadena Rose Bowl Swap Meet and "had an epiphany.... All of us have begged for attention and cried out in loneliness. Each and every one of us has been surprised and hurt, over, and over, and over, again and again, just like the exhausting, repeated shock that is the life of a clown." She has been collecting clown paintings ever since, and has become a proselytizer for the unsung genre. Here Keaton has collected 66 wrenching, full-color reproductions along with the responses of fellow thespians to her collection (and the collection of L.A. gallery-owner Robert Berman), since clowns and actors have "all gone for the laugh, sold out on occasion, dressed for effect, and paraded our hearts on our sleeves." Beginning with Woody Allen, Dan Aykroyd and Roseanne Cherri Barr, Keaton's book includes reflections from Ben Stiller ("When someone says `be funny' to me, I immediately want to hide, or punch that person in the mouth"), Steve Martin ("The Sex Life of Clowns") and Lisa Kudrow ("As a performer, I'm mostly associated with `witless' characters. Maybe the disdain is for myself") among many other high-wattage names. This unlikely combination of clown paintings and 33 texts by mostly comedic actors yields irony levels reaching the heights of Larry David's Curb Your Enthusiasm (many comedians hate their close cousins the clowns, and particularly clown paintings)-and is every bit as entertaining and affecting. This "monstrous and hideous" (as David calls it in his contribution) collection should prove a surprise hit and justify Keaton's pounding the pavement in search of these much maligned painted faces. (Nov.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781576871485
  • Publisher: powerHouse Books
  • Publication date: 10/28/2002
  • Edition description: 1ST
  • Pages: 128
  • Product dimensions: 9.00 (w) x 11.60 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Diane Keaton
Diane Keaton
Academy Award-winning actress Diane Keaton is an active member of the Board of Directors of the Los Angeles Conservancy and a longstanding patron of the arts.Tim Street-Porter is an award-winning photographer who shoots for various shelter magazines. He is the author of Freestyle, Casa Mexicana, The Los Angeles House, and Hollywood Style. He lives and works in Los Angeles.
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 10, 2013

    I rate this book five stars for the author Diane Keaton who has

    I rate this book five stars for the author Diane Keaton who has a true passion and appreciation for clowns as well as the beautiful paintings depticted in the book. As far as the people she chose to comment for her book I score it a hard 1.... Though I sincerely appreciate her choice in people for the simple and completely eye opening reason that it changed my views with regards to these people who I once truly enjoyed and now have no respect for and do not intend to support their acting careers any further via being a fan or viewer. I had no idea they had such hard hearts and those folks deserve no room in my life regardless of their acting abilities. Like it or not those comedians need to face up to the fact that clowns and all they represent are the basis and foundation of their aspired works.....

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