Home > Current events > The Grand Parade Portrait Of The Artist As A Clown

Portrait of the Artist as a Clown

From March 11 to 31 May 31 2004

From Chardin to Cindy Sherman, 200 major works
focus on the image and status of the Artist in society

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec The Clowness Cha-U-Kao 1895
Oil on board 54 x 49 Musée d'Orsay, Paris.


Galeries nationales du Grand Palais

Square Jean Perrin entrance
75008 Paris


Tél : 01 44 13 17 17
site : www.rmn.fr/parade


Open everyday except tuesdays, from 10 am to 8 pm,
Wednesday till 10 pm Closed May 1st


Jean Clair, Director of the Musée Picasso, Paris

Admission prices

From 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. with bookings : full price € 10.1.
From 1 p.m. without bookings: full price € 9. Concessions: € 7.
Free for children under 13, income support beneficiaries
and old age pensioners

Press contact :

Florence Le Moing
Tél : 01 40 13 47 62 - Fax : 01 40 13 48 61
e-mail : florence.le-moing@rmn.fr

Do not believe that this exhibition focuses on the circus in art or even on the history of the circus. Its title was inspired by Jean Starobinski’s book Portrait of the Artist as an acrobat, and it deals with the way artists, at a certain period of time, portrayed themselves through the features of a clown figure. That phenomenon reflected their changing social status and marked the history of modern painting

The artist as a clown

After 1789, the image that artists had of themselves -and that society sent back to them- irretrievably began to change. They ceased to be regarded, and to regard themselves as equal to the Greats of this world and started to envision themselves as marginal beings, as outcasts, buffoons or clowns, and that was precisely the image they projected. Hence an upsurge of interest for the circus, a popular form of entertainment that was developing at the time. Concurrently, the solemn, ceremonial self-portraits of the classical age were superseded by ironic self-portraits in which artists gave their features a caricatured, grimacing twist.

Paintings, sculptures, films and videos

Mondo novo, Parade, Ecce Homo, Portrait of the artist, End Game ,Turbulence and Chaos, Monsters and Marvels, Heavenly Bodies, Harlequin... from XVIII century fairground shows dear to Tiepolo to Picasso's Harlequins, nine sections display some two hundred works – paintings, sculptures, drawings, photographs, installations – covering over two centuries, from Watteau and Chardin to Boltanski and Cindy Sherman, via Goya, Daumier, Courbet, Seurat, Ensor, Rouault, Léger, Klee, or Chagall... And from Marcel Carné’s Les Enfants du paradis to Pierrick Sorin’s Whipped cream tarts, excerpts from old films and contemporary videos, showing the persistency of that theme in today’s art, ponctuate the exhibition, which ends with the movements of Jonathan Borofsky’s clown automaton

This exhibiton is organised by the National Gallery of Canada., and coproduced by the Réunion des musées nationaux for the Paris showing. It will be held at the National Gallery of Canada from 25 June to 19 September 2004.

Exhibition catalogue, 22 x 28 cm, 368 pages, 240 illustrations of which 200 in colour, € 59, copublished by Gallimard and RMN, distributed by Sodis
Le Petit journal, € 3, RMN