TOKYO, JAPAN.- The Seiji Togo Memorial Sompo Japan Museum of Art presents Circus, on view through September 2, 2007. The modern circus was born in the 1770s in England; thereafter several circus groups were established in France, Germany and the United States. In Japan, many circus groups from overseas, including American Risley Circus which came in 1864, performed. On the other hand, Japanese acrobats went abroad to perform and Japanese native circus groups have been active since then in Japan.
In Western countries, Impressionist painters showed their interest in the life of acrobats and the formal beauty of their circus acts, and then created artwork. Artists on exhibit such as Picasso, Matisse, Rouault, Chagall, Leger, Klee, Buffet and Calder overlapped their lives with acrobats lives and became fascinated by the circus world. Japanese artists such as Sotaro Yasui, Seiji Togo, Kinosuke Ebihara and Kiyoshi Hasegawa went to France and saw works with circus images and became influenced by those works. Also, in Japan, artists such as Toshiyuki Hasekawa, Ei Kawanishi, Koshiro Onchi and Eikyu created works with the circus theme.
Around 90 works with circus images by 9 overseas artists and 18 Japanese artists will be on exhibit. Looking at works created by artists who captured the charm of the circus acts will enable us to relive the circus atmosphere and greet clowns in the circus backstage.