The Great Parade: Portrait of the Artist as Clown

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The circus is a dazzling world filled with acrobats and harlequins, tumblers and riders, monsters and celestial creatures. Now this engaging book sets that world in a new light, examining how painters, sculptors, and photographers from the eighteenth century to the present have used the circus as a springboard for their imaginative expression and have envisioned the clown as a metaphor for the modern artist.

The book presents more than 175 works by such artists as Degas, Toulouse-Lautrec, Rouault, Picasso, Chagall, and Léger. Some of these are masterful works shown for the first time; these range from the 18-meter stage curtain Picasso designed in 1917 for Erik Satie’s ballet Parade to more intimate works such as Nadar and Tournachon’s photographs of Pierrot as played by celebrated mime Charles Debureau.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Given the melancholy and ennui so artfully and wistfully manifest in The Great Parade ‘enjoy’ may not be the right word. ‘Experience’ is more accurate. But what an experience!”—Heather Harrington, The Canada Post
Library Journal
Accompanying an exhibition of the same name at the National Gallery of Canada, this catalog aims to "explore the circus as the locale for artist's imaginative expression, and the clown as a metaphor for the condition of the modern artist," states the gallery director. Edited by Clair, director of the Musee Picasso, Paris, the book examines how painters, sculptors, and photographers from the 18th century to the present have used the circus as a springboard for examining both society and themselves. Gathering a wide range of media and the works of many masters, including Degas, Toulouse-Lautrec, Rouault, Picasso, Chagall, Leger, and photographer Nadar (Gaspard-Felix Tournachon), the book is amazingly broad and deep. The essays are definitely not written with the lay reader in mind, as they are laden with academic jargon, metaphors, and references. The chronology, which is organized by period and then by country, is accompanied by a comparative chart listing visual arts, music, and film in the same period, thus putting the artwork in historical perspective. A painstakingly researched academic work with dazzling illustrations, this is recommended for deep art collections only.-Lucia S. Chen, NYPL Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780300103755
  • Publisher: Yale University Press
  • Publication date: 7/26/2004
  • Pages: 420
  • Product dimensions: 10.10 (w) x 12.60 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Gérard Régnier (Jean Clair), Director of the Musée Picasso, Paris, is the general editor of the catalogue.

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Table of Contents

Lenders to the exhibition 10
Foreword 12
Acknowledgements 14
The grimacing double 16
Parade and palingenesis : of the circus in the work of Picasso and others 21
The circus of cruelty : a portrait of the contemporary clown as Sisyphus 35
The waking dream : photography and the circus 47
Hysterical clowns, ridiculous martyrs : the writer's view 57
Catalogue 66
Chronology 348
Bibliography 391
List of works 413
Index 421
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