Marc Chagall on The Circus
“For me, a circus is a magical spectacle, a passing and dissolving like a little world. There is a disquieting circus, a circus of hidden depths. These clowns, riders, acrobats are imprinted on my sight. Why? Why am I moved by their make-up and their grimaces? With them I travel on toward other horizons. Their colors and their painted masks draw me toward other, strange, psychic forms which I long to paint.
Circus! A magical word, a centuries old entertainment parading before us, in which a tear, a smile, a gesture of arm or leg takes on the quality of great art.
And what do circus people receive in return? A crust of bread. Night brings them solitude and sadness stretching on to the following day until evening, amid a blaze of electric light, heralds a renewal of the old life. For me, the circus is the most tragic of all dramatic performances.
Throughout the centuries, its voice has been the most shrill heard in the quest for the amusement and joy of man. Often it takes on a high poetic form. I seem to see a Don Quixote tilting at windmills, like the inspired clown who has known tears and dreams of human love.
My circus pitches its Big Top in the sky.
It performs among the clouds, among the chairs,
Or in the moon-reflecting windows.
In the streets a man goes by.
He puts out the lights and lamps of the town.
The show is over.”