Why were clowns the ultimate inspiration for Bernard Buffet?

Published on : 21 April 20222 min reading time
People often wonder why the world-famous painter Bernard Buffet spent so much time painting clown faces, especially sad clown expressions. In fact, these paintings have reflected the existential anguish he suffered throughout his life. It is therefore a kind of self-portrait of the artist. If you want to know more about this painter, this guide will provide you with all the information you need.

Paintings that leave no one indifferent!

Bernard Buffet was a controversial painter and art lovers either liked or disliked his works. But whatever one’s opinion of his immense work, one thing is certain: it left no one indifferent! The clown series reflected the existential anguish that the painter suffered throughout his life. Incidentally, you can discover Bernard Buffet’s clown series here. All the clown characters, especially the sad clowns, reflect an intense melancholy and disarray in their features. The most capable Bernard Buffet experts say that the clown paintings are self-portraits of the artist who was deeply affected by the horrors of the Second World War and the cruelty of the Nazi camps.

Unique paintings!

Bernard Buffet’s clowns are distinguished by their pale and elongated faces, straight hair, wrinkled foreheads and shrunk hands which make them easily recognisable. The first painting in the Sad Clowns series, entitled “Clown’s Head”, marked the beginning of a great reputation. The theme of misery is indeed omnipresent in his musical clowns. Later, he painted other clowns that he integrated into a circus, theatre or bullfighting setting. With the exception of “The Dancer” and a few paintings of female dancers, all the figures in the collection are male. These are characterised by sharp lines and interlacing.

A deeply distraught personality!

Throughout his life, Bernard Buffet suffered from deep existential anguish. Being an unconventional personality, he never managed to forget the horrors and cruelties of the Nazi era. After the war, many art critics described his work as socialist realism. Many of his paintings are also painted in black and white, grisaille, bluish and even ochre. In a nutshell, clownish paintings were made to resemble the self-portraits of a man forever marked by the horrors of his time.

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