THE BIG TOP—SURPRISINGLY AND CHARMINGLY SUBDUED

yellowpants_2100922iWe’re looking forward to the upcoming Cirque du Soleil show in September. Having been thrilled by several of their shows, we know we can count on feats of dynamic marvel to send us home more alert than when we arrive.

 

fernel-11We have a portfolio of circus lithos from the 1930s, which affords our thinking over differences and similarities as compared with our current circus excitement. The duos here are quite static (pointing up all the more, how that Cirque photo image implies motion), offering very personal heroes.

The following passage from our website, with its celebrity-first gambit helps us get a bead upon what we have lost, and what we have gained. To this day, in Paris, once a year, French celebrities perform alongside circus artists in a show to raise money for those having retired from circus life in France. In 1931, Fernand Fernel (1872-1934) produced a portfolio of 60 lithographs (printed on high quality paper by Lucien Serre and Co.) covering the shows from 1923 -1930. Rare (our collection is #117 from a press-run of 555) and glowing, the prints measure 11″ x 16 1/2″ and all are in perfect condition.

fernel-3Maurice Chevalier, more a sweetheart than an athlete, captured as if he were on a music hall stage.

 

fernel-6You don’t get much more motion-challenged an entity than an elephant. But let’s give credit to the presences as frozen in attitudes serving to show a bit of mystery about such a partnership.

 

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Did French circus art take its bearings from music halls like Les Folies Bergères?

 

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This design, in the powerful streamline of the horse and the striking  attitude of the rider does convey the kind of personality-effacing thrust now necessary in circus performance.

 

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What makes these vignettes special is there finding great value in circus life per say—the grind (so clear in the faces and general presence of the real pros); the effort to make a scene with limited budgets and limited physical endowments.

 

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So it is that the circus animals so closely resemble the pets most of the audience would have at home. Finding themselves in circus runaways, the group of residents of the most chic place on the planet generously convey to us their common touch as linked to the wildest ambitions.

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Let’s close with a neat little package of kinetic power, not closely but somewhat tracking the flare of the Cirque we can see today.

View the complete set of our Cirque graphics: http://www.idesirevintageposters.com/circus.html

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