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Woman on Trapeze

1946
20th century
135 cm x 95 cm (53 1/8 in. x 37 3/8 in.)

Karl Zerbe (Berlin, 1903 - 1972, Tallahassee, Florida) Primary

Object Type: painting
Artist Nationality: North America, American
Medium and Support: Oil and encaustic on canvas
Credit Line: Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin, Michener Acquisitions Fund, 1969
            
               Accession Number:                P1969.7.6             
            
Object Description: Inspired by Zerbe’s brief travels with the Barnum and Bailey Circus in 1945, Woman on Trapeze raises provocative questions. The intrepid trapeze artist stares beyond the viewer from a bird’s-eye perspective high above the crowd below—so where are we? And why is the young woman’s expression so self-contained while her muscular body practically crashes into the viewer’s own? The acid green and strong contrasts of light and dark give the scene a surreal, even ominous, tone. Although normally a site of family entertainment, this circus vignette presents an unsettling mystery.

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