For as long as the Circus has been around, it’s been a source of inspiration and theme in both Art and Literature. Edgar Degas created a sensation in 1879 with his acrobat “Lady La La”. Renoir painted “The Jugglers” the same year. In the 1890s Toulouse-Lautrec was committed to a sanatorium and in an effort to convince his doctors he was sane, produced a brilliant series of circus drawings from memory.
More than 300 paintings, drawings, engravings, sculptures or photographs of Picasso are related to the circus and were a recurring theme in his life . Chagall saw circus people as the perfect example of artists who desire to be loved and to achieve their dreams.
Before television, the circus was the most popular form of mass entertainment. Everybody went to the Circus and the exotic subject matter made it appealing to both artists and patrons.
Even today, the incredible Cirque du Soleil is a combination of mystique and spectacle and the inspiration for many artists around the world. Myself included. What started as a suggestion several months ago by one of my students has evolved into an ongoing series. From jugglers and stilt walkers, to contortionists and acrobats to the most recent – a couple of old-world carnival style characters, “The Ring Master” and “The Strong Man”. Movement is the challenge with this series and I want the sculptures to appear to be caught in mid-action. There are still a few more ideas in progress so stay tuned, but in the meantime you can see some of these pieces at the Orange Art Gallery in Ottawa or during the Sculpture Studio Tour on the April 22-23 weekend. More information on the Studio Tour is available at the National Capital Network of Sculptors website at http://www.sculptureottawa.ca