45½ x 33¼ inches
Bequest of Caroline Wiess LawArts 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.