Wayne Thiebaud was fascinated by clowns since his childhood when he looked forward to the visits of a traveling Ringling Brothers circus to see clowns. He was fascinated with the costumes, faces and the antics of the clowns. It’s no surprise then that he has made dozens of paintings, drawings, and etchings of clowns in which he revisits those early memories.
Wayne Thiebaud: Clowns is on exhibit at the recently re-opened Laguna Art Museum. The compelling background to this show is that these portraits were created by 100-year-old Wayne Thiebaud, a California native who has been called the quintessential American painter.
He began working on his clown portraits seven years ago to deal in part with recent family difficulties.
Most clowns are unique in attire, setting and expression. All paintings are based on carefully drawn figures, an aspect that the artist is known for. Many figures are placed in settings that are unusual, even for clowns; for example, a tiger pinning a clown to the floor in “Clown and Beast.”
One of the most endearing portraits in this exhibition is “Clown and Makeup” of a seated clown, nude from the waist up, smiling peacefully at a plate filled with makeup and a brush. The artist said that this piece, “is probably the most puzzling painting for me. Can’t quite figure what that is.”
Date: December 6, 2020 – October 24, 2021
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See you there!