Clown Paintings
by Diane Keaton
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ISBN Number: 1 57687 148 7
Format:
Hardback
Number of Pages:
128
Publication Date:
2002
Publisher:
Powerhouse Books
 

The world needs its clowns. Bigger than life, with their exaggerated features and makeup, dressed in their gaudily mismatched and hilariously oversized outfits, clowns refuse to be overlooked. And yet, the portrait of the clown has been all but ignored. Trained to respond respectfully to serious portraiture, we try to read meaning into their big mouths, prosthetic noses, and unruly tufts of hair. Ultimately, the paintings are mysteries: what did amateur artists, who lavished so much time on these iconic images, hope to capture and accomplish?

Clown Paintings is a twisty little illustrated book that showcases sixty-five outrageous and compelling clown portraits, painted by amateurs and selected by actor/director Diane Keaton. By turns hilarious and heartfelt, joyful and mortifying, these artworks were collected over the years by Keaton, who found herself as mesmerized by their mute eloquence as she was by their bad taste. It’s easy to see what drew Keaton to them. They embody contradiction; they’re fabulous and horrible, hysterical and dignified, generic yet absolutely specific. And above all - in the grand clown tradition - way out there. The clowns, from whom we expect mischievous, out-of-control behaviour, are painted as solemn and decorous subjects to contemplate. Instead of distracting us with brooms, squawking horns, rubber mallets, and slapstick humour, we get the chance to look at them carefully, and to consider how they not only make us laugh, but how they allow us to look more closely at ourselves. And to contemplate the abyss.
 

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