BURLINGTON, VT.- The world of the circus had always interested French artist Georges Rouault, with its contrast of superficial brightness and the infinite sadness of the clown's life. From 1926 to 1938, he and his Parisian print publisher and dealer, Ambroise Vollard, published Rouault's print portfolio, Cirque de L'Étoile Filante, (Circus of the Shooting Star) which is Rouault's attempt to strip away the "spangles" of the clown's costume and reveal the "reflection of paradise lost." Seventeen color etchings with aquatint introduce the portfolio, followed by a selection of wood engravings that illustrate the text, also written by Rouault.
Rouault identified with the figures in the circus, in particular, the clown, as he considered him a true symbol of man: a figure that must perform his role in life's circus, despite its vagaries. Rouault saw the clown as the incarnation of human suffering, but his physical attributes appealed to him as well: the multi-colored finery, grease-painted face, and acrobatic attitudes. Form, color, and harmony were, to Rouault, a trademark of the circus, and he strove to create a similar dynamism in his artwork. Although the theme of the circus has been represented in art since antiquity; it was not until the early-20th century in France that it acquired the human dimension reflected in Georges Rouault's work.
This exhibition of Rouault's prints has been organized by the Syracuse University Art Galleries Traveling Exhibition Program.