Jack B. Yeats Masquerade & Spectacle: The Circus and the Travelling Fair

27 Sep 2008 – 14 Dec 2008

Event times

Saturday 15 March - Sunday 14 December 2008 Tuesday - Sunday 11am - 5pm Closed Monday except Bank holidays.

Compton Verney

Compton Verney, United Kingdom

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This exhibition looks at the intriguing world of the circus and travelling fair in the work of Jack B Yeats (1871-1957). Yeats became fascinated by the circus, its live dynamic and the characters he encountered, when he first visited fairs and small travelling circuses in his native Sligo. In 1887, at the age of sixteen, he joined his parents in London and became a regular visitor to the spectacular London circuses. His sketches and paintings capture dramatic moments where the viewer is aware of the unique experience of watching a performer interact with a crowd and the dynamic of live events unfolding. He held the character of the clown in particular fascination and was drawn into their world of comedy, mystery and song. His paintings are often poetically titled and hint at more personal motivations underlying the characters depicted and his own ideas of creativity and artistic intent. The exhibition at Compton Verney will include a number of important works including His Grand Conversation was under the Rose (1943), Alone (1994) and The Singing Clown (1928). Works on loan will be from both private and public collections. Oskar Kokoschka emerged out of the Art Nouveau movement in Vienna but his energetic and spontaneous painting style reveals the influence of Van Gogh and the Berlin art scene on his work rather than the more decorative style of his Viennese compatriots Kustav Klimt and Egon Schiele. This exhibition, begins with his exile in Prague and focuses on the development of Kokoschka's late style, marked by a greater engagement with the outside world and the impact of World War II. Kokoschka was an outspoken opponent of Hitler and in common with many avant-garde artists his paintings were confiscated and co-opted into the exhibitions of Degenerate Art organised by the Nazis to ridicule and condemn modern art. Following his escape to England in 1938 his paintings started to reflect the political climate and unfolding world events. During the 1940s many of his landscapes emerge as intense political allegories containing violent imagery and caricatured figures, whilst his portraits reveal the emotional and psychological mood of the sitter. Kokoschka painted many European cities, but none more than London and he became a British citizen in 1947.

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