Claes Oldenburg

Georges Seurat (French, 1859–1891). Circus Sideshow (Parade de cirque), 1887–88. Oil on canvas. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Bequest of Stephen C. Clark, 1960 (61.101.17)

‘Seurat’s Circus Sideshow’ at the Metropolitan Museum

Taking as its focus one of The Met’s most captivating masterpieces, ‘Seurat’s Circus Sideshow’ affords a unique context for appreciating the heritage and allure of Circus Sideshow (Parade de cirque), painted in 1887-1888 by Georges Seurat (1859-1891). February 17–May 29, 2017.

Source: Metropolitan Museum of Art

Anchored by a remarkable group of related works by Seurat that will fully illuminate the lineage of the motif in his inimitable conté crayon drawings, the presentation will explore the fascination the sideshow subject held for other artists in the 19th century, ranging from the great caricaturist Honoré Daumier at mid-century to the young Pablo Picasso at the ‘fin de siècle’.

This rich visual narrative will unfold in a provocative display of more than 100 paintings, drawings, prints, period posters, and illustrated journals, supplemented by musical instruments and an array of documentary material intended to give a vivid sense of the seasonal fairs and traveling circuses of the day. Among the highlights will be Fernand Pelez’s epic ‘Grimaces and Misery–The Saltimbanques’ (Petit Palais, Paris), of exactly the same date as Seurat’s magisterial work and, with its life-size performers aligned in friezelike formation across a 20-foot stage, a match for his ambition.

Seurat’s Circus Sideshow is organized by Susan Alyson Stein, Engelhard Curator of Nineteenth-Century European Painting at The Met, and guest curator Richard Thomson, Watson Gordon Professor of Fine Art at the University of Edinburgh.

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