Indepth Arts News: |
"Clown Paintings: From the Collection of Diane Keaton"
2003-08-24 until 2003-10-26
Andy Warhol Museum
The Andy Warhol Museum announces
that it will present, Clown Paintings: From the Collection of Diane Keaton
and Others, August 24 through October 26, 2003. The exhibition includes more
than 40 amateur clown paintings culled from the collections of actress Diane
Keaton and gallery-owner and collector Robert Berman. Clown Paintings is the
final exhibition to open during "Summer of Andy"- The Warhol's summer-long
presentation of special exhibitions and programs in celebration of Andy
Warhol's 75th birthday.
On view in the Museum's 4th floor gallery, Clown Paintings features dozens
of stark white faces, red down-turned mouths and outlined eyes. A caricature
of the human condition, the iconic image of the clown provokes both positive
and negative responses. For some, the mere presence of a clown conjures up
childhood memories and inexplicable uneasiness. But for Diane Keaton, the
painted image of the clown-in all its kitsch and banality, conjures a
Andy Warhol's own passion for collecting included more than 300 ceramic
cookie jars, most of which he picked up at flea markets and garage sales.
Clearly kitsch and yet somehow appealing for their vernacular and nostalgic
charm, the cookie jars were among Warhol's prized possessions. Keaton was
struck by a similar allure one day while scouring through the Pasadena Rose
Bowl Swap Meet in southern California. There, she came across an amateur
painting of a circus clown and had what she describes as "an epiphany." The
discovery led to a new passion for these paintings and the outrageous
subjects they depict. By turns heartfelt and humorous, frightening and
bizarre, these paintings obsessed Keaton, who found herself moved by their
mute eloquence and fascinated by their kitschy bad taste. Keaton is a
well-known collector of kitsch, and Clown Paintings includes just a few
dozen works from her collection of more than 300 paintings.
Robert Berman, owner of the Robert Berman Gallery, has amassed more than
1,000 clown paintings over the past 10 years. He thought he was alone in his
passion, until a few years ago, when paintings he usually picked up at flea
markets for $25 began going for $125. Recognizing the profit potential of
collector competition, sellers of clown paintings began telling Berman, "If
you don't buy it, Diane Keaton will." It appeared that Berman no longer had
the corner on the market. In 2002, Berman and Keaton met and organized an
exhibition of their collections at Berman's Santa Monica, California
gallery, in hopes of bringing a little respect to the clown painting genre.
Although repeatedly placed outside the realm of high art by the serious art
word, Keaton and Berman believe clown paintings represent an artistic
purity, passion, and ridiculousness, that even some museum pieces fail to
The collections of Keaton and Berman are also featured in Keaton's new book,
Clown Paintings. On sale in The Warhol store throughout the exhibition, the
book includes essays by America's preeminent comics, from Jerry Lewis to
The Andy Warhol Museum receives state arts funding support through a grant
from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency funded by the
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the National Endowment for the Arts, a
federal agency. The 2003 exhibition program has been supported, in part, by
The Juliet Lea Hillman Simonds Foundation, Inc.
Located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the place of Andy Warhol's birth, The
Warhol is one of the most comprehensive single-artist museums in the world.
The Andy Warhol Museum is one of the four Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh.
Additional information about The Warhol is available at www.warhol.org.