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PICASSO AND THE CIRCUS
Picasso’s contact with the circus world was very frequent throughout his career. In Barcelona at the turn of the 19th century, Picasso was to see circuses passing through the town, although there remains no trace of his work from that time. Later, the travelling circuses on the Paris boulevards were to become a place where the young Picasso and his friends would meet up when they first came to stay in the city. It was at the end of 1904 and in 1905 that the circus – Medrano being a point of reference in his life and work – became the central topic of his compositions of the time. The artist created a fictitious scene where acrobats and tight-rope walkers – who already appeared in the literary and pictorial tradition of Romanticism to symbolize loneliness and human suffering – play out the roles of everyday life, their personal problems, their loneliness and the incomprehension with which their feelings were met. The family scenes, where travelling acrobats and harlequins become the true protagonists of this period, are the heritage of the family groups which have their roots in the blue period. These compositions were to be at the origin of a large painting which Picasso had dwelt on for a long time, The Family of Travelling Acrobats, produced in 1905. As Minotaure was to become in the 1930s, so Harlequin now became the artist’s alter ego. This character, who refers back to the marginal characters of the blue period, was to become the true hero of what was called the pink period.
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