Current Print Exhibition

Carnies, Comedy & Clowns
Susan Soriente, Curator
January 9, 2014 through May 4, 2014

Carnies, Comedy & Clowns
An Exhibition from the Gladys M. Lux Print Collection

The Gladys M. LUX Historical Gallery begins the New Year with an exhibition of humorous figures and celebratory festivals. Ms. Lux must have enjoyed clowns and their slapstick humor because of the number of prints she collected about this subject.

Clowns were known in antiquity and the world over as laughter provoking comedians. The origin of the word ‘clown’ is uncertain but it is thought to have come from the Old Danish word “klunni” translated as clod, which means a coarse or boorish fellow, a lout. For hundreds of years circuses and carnivals have been home to clowns. The word ‘carnie’ is thought to have become popularized in the 1930s in North America, when it was colloquially used to indicate a carnival or someone who worked in a carnival.

Among prints in the Carnies, Comedy & Clowns exhibition is a lithograph by Jean Charlot titled El Volador of a ceremonial dance performed by native peoples in Mexico. It depicts a man who stands on a small platform a top a pole, dancing and playing a flute and drum. The thrill of a falling circus acrobat is portrayed in Jon Steuart Curry’s lithograph, Missed Leap. Another lithograph in the exhibition is Pablo Picasso’s Les Saltimbanques, which is a portrayal of an itinerate circus family. These clown performers were often used by Picasso in his artwork as a metaphor for the human condition.

Two woodcuts, one Japanese the other American, an etching and thirteen lithographs by fifteen artists comprise the Carnies, Comedy & Clowns exhibition. It will be on view in the Gladys M. Lux Historical Gallery on the second floor of the LUX Center for the Arts from January 9, 2014 to May 4, 2014. It may also be seen online, above. The exhibibion was curated by Susan Soriente, Curator of the Gladys M. Lux Print and Historical Collections.