Bernard Buffet’s clowns have marked a whole generation of artists by their dark, flat and cold aspect. They were painted at a time when France was recovering from the Second World War. If each portrait is different, they have in common this expression of great solitude and melancholy.
Who was Bernard Buffet?
Bernard Buffet was a French painter, born in 1928 in Paris. At the age of 15, he was admitted to the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts and two years later, he presented his first exhibition. When he was not even 20 years old, he received the Critics’ Prize.
The artist’s work is characterized by his penchant for elongated, all-encompassing forms, his use of dark colors, and the effect of loneliness and despair that he exudes. This style is particularly visible in Bernard Buffet’s clowns. You can discover them here.
Very much opposed to abstract art, Bernard Buffet’s works have always leaned towards representation. These works can now be admired throughout the world: Japan, London and Paris.
Bernard Buffet’s clowns
In 1956 the exhibition “Le Cirque” was presented as usual in February at the Galerie Drouant-David. The public could discover acrobats, trapeze artists, but especially clowns with long and sad faces, painted in bright colors.
Bernard Buffet’s clowns represented the state of mind of the French after the Second World War. One could read the trauma of the war, the disbelief at the end of the war and a lot of melancholy.
Bernard Buffet explains his obsession with clowns by their ability to use disguises and caricatures. Thanks to this series, he was elected the year of their release as “best artist in Paris” by the magazine Connaissance des Arts.
The similarities of Bernard Buffet’s clowns
Bernard Buffet is known for his very graphic and expressionist work. These are styles that the public can find in all his works, but more particularly on the series of clowns.
As part of the “Circus” series, Bernard Buffet’s clowns, although differing from one portrait to another, are similar in many ways. The faces are long and flat, and the portraits exude a great melancholy and loneliness. The feeling that these portraits provoke, however, is contrasted with their festive costumes and the use of bright colors in the clothing, sometimes in the background.