Explore the Most Dynamic and Intimate Pictures of the American Circus
May 15 - September 6, 2010
Sarasota, FL—April 5, 2010 – Explore the most dynamic period of the American circus through rarely seen photographs in HEYDAY: The Photographs of Frederick W. Glasier at The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art’s Ulla R. and Arthur F. Searing Wing, May 15-Sept. 6, 2010. Drawn from the collections of the Ringling Museum, the exhibition is co-curated by Peter Kayafas of the Eakins Press Foundation and Deborah Walk, Curator of the Circus Museum of the Ringling Museum. The exhibition features 64 photographs that depict the circus coming to town, performances of spectacular feats, and the behind-the-scenes life of circus members.
“Glasier masters the techniques of mood, lighting and composition that truly make him a brilliant photographer,” said T. Marshall Rousseau, Interim Director of the Ringling Museum. “We are excited to have Glacier’s photographs shown in the Museum of Art galleries.”
HEYDAY highlights the work of Frederick W. Glasier, who photographed the circus and served as the official photographer for the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, among others. Glasier’s unrestricted access to both the performances and backstage life allowed him to explore the public and private personalities of some of the greatest entertainers of the era.
HEYDAY is arranged to chronologically illustrate the event of the circus coming to town. Lithographic promotional posters vividly announced upcoming performances, with hyperbolic claims about the spectacular events soon to unfold, will be juxtaposed with Glasier’s photographs that document the arrival of the circus, from the excitement of parades that take over small towns, to the set-up of the massive big top tent, which could hold more than 12,000 people.
Highlights on view include photographs of circus performers captured in the midst of their acts, such as the Deike Sisters, a gymnastic family with the Barnum & Bailey circus, and a trapeze aerial act, captured in a split-second moment, of the Flying Banvards in the photograph Maude Banvard, The Catch, Brockton Fair (1907). Also on exhibit are intimate portraits of Native American’s who often performed in Wild West shows.
Glasier’s great strength was as portraitist, and his photographs reveal an intimate connection to the circus and sideshow performers. Famous portraits on display include Chief Iron Tail, a star of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show – a model for the Buffalo Head nickle; Mademoiselle Octavia, known as the “Yankee Snake Charmer;” Charmion, Strong Woman; and Peter Guckeyson, who ran away from home and joined the circus to become a traditional white-faced clown under the name Pete Mardo.
The exhibition is made possible by UBS and organized by the Eakins Press Foundation. It is paid for in part by Sarasota County Tourist Development Tax revenues. The exhibition was on display at The UBS Art Gallery in New York City on in late 2008 and early 2009.