Bouglione Circus craze under the big top

The circus is a home for crazy. And sometimes you need just that.

In February 2020, my dad suggested that we photograph the Bouglione Circus. The madness of the circus has long been a source of inspiration for artists, and from some photos I’d seen my dad take at Bouglione, it was clear the spectacle inspired him too. I was keen to experience the magic.

My takeaway: circus art is severely underrated. Here’s a little journey with some amazing clowns, acrobats, musicians, dancers, and more. I encourage you to search for shows that might be on around you. If you have kids, they’ll love it. If you don’t, you’ll get to be one again for just a moment.

Let the show begin.


Calder, Toulouse-Lautrec, Picasso, Seurat, Renoir, Degas and many other artists found inspiration from circus art:

Countless visual artists were fascinated, excited and charged by the unusual characters [the circus] attracted, especially during Modernism. The array of colors and movements captivated the artists and offered them dynamic images full of drama.

6 Artworks by Modernist Artists Inspired by the Circus

Before the advent of cinema, the circus was one of the most popular forms of mass entertainment

Why the circus fascinated modern artists

The image of a clown was particularly exploited, something which can be traced back to a fascination with Pierrot, a stock character from the Commedia dell’arte.

6 Artworks by Modernist Artists Inspired by the Circus

The circus imagery suited the notion of modernity since it functioned as a diverse entity where any individual regardless of class, race, gender, sexuality or physical ability was accepted.

6 Artworks by Modernist Artists Inspired by the Circus

So, ready to drop Netflix for one evening? 🤡

Emmanuel Nataf

I'm a founder at Reedsy ( and a street photographer in my spare time.

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