Two Circus Artists or Snake Charmer and Clown (1948) by Max Beckmann

Two Circus Artists or Snake Charmer and Clown - Max Beckmann - 1948

Artwork Information

TitleTwo Circus Artists or Snake Charmer and Clown
ArtistMax Beckmann
Dimensions88.5 x 165 cm
Art MovementExpressionism
Current LocationPrivate Collection

About Two Circus Artists or Snake Charmer and Clown

The artwork titled “Two Circus Artists or Snake Charmer and Clown” is a creation by the artist Max Beckmann, executed in the year 1948. This piece is an oil painting on canvas that measures 88.5 by 165 centimeters. Beckmann’s work is closely associated with the Expressionism movement, and this particular piece can be categorized as a genre painting. Currently, the artwork is held in a private collection, and it is not on public display.

In the artwork, two figures are portrayed against a dark, abstract background. The figure on the left appears to be a female snake charmer, characterized by her exotic attire and the snake that wraps around her body, weaving through her arms and resting its head near hers. Her expression is intense and she directly faces the viewer, creating a focal point with her gaze. The vibrant colors of her costume and the patterns on her headscarf contrast with the darker tones of the background and her snake companion.

To her right stands a figure dressed as a clown, his costume patterned with triangles and his face painted with a white base, typical of clown makeup. His hat, adorned with what resembles a crown-like pattern, rests on his head, enhancing the theatrical and performative aspect of his character. The clown’s expression is solemn, almost melancholic, a stark juxtaposition to the expected joviality of his profession.

Beckmann’s use of thick, expressive brushstrokes and the contorted, angular forms of the subjects are indicative of his expressionistic style. The artwork explores themes of performance and identity, as well as the contrasting perceptions of entertainment and the underlying seriousness that can accompany the lives of performers. The composition’s tight framing, along with the intense interaction of gazes and physical proximity, underscores the intense emotional atmosphere and the connection between the two characters.

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