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100 Highlights
of the MFAH
Take a tour through some of the most significant objects in the MFAH collections. On these pages, you can browse 100 highlights from collections throughout the institution. Then visit the Museum in person to discover your own favorites.
© 2010 Successió Miró / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris
Spanish, 1893 - 1983
Painting (Circus)
Oil on canvas

45½ x 33¼ inches

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Bequest of Caroline Wiess Law

Arts of Europe

Joan Miró is not the first painter or poet to be fascinated by the circus.
Many members of the Paris avant-garde sought out this popular form of entertainment, seeing jugglers, trapeze artists, and clowns as mirrors of their own creative aspirations. However, Miró brings a unique and highly abstract sense of play to his circus compositions of the mid-1920s, where
a triangle can signal the pointed cap of a jester or a dotted line the path of
a trotting horse.

Painting (Circus) was created during Miró’s allegiance with the Surrealist avant-garde in Paris. Surrealist writers and painters were fascinated by the possibilities of automatic drawing, a method of free association that allowed the artist to tap into the creative unconscious. Miró described his series of circus images as dream paintings, and the openness of their compositions is in part related to his deepening connection with the Surrealists.