Dance, theater, sports, the circus, and more recently film are all popular pastimes and for many a welcome escape from the rigors of the workplace and the demands of daily life. There is a long relationship of the visual arts with leisure (indeed, the visual arts are commonly thought of as another leisure activity). This exhibition presents a range of objects by artists made from the late 18th century until the late 20th century that portray a diverse array of leisure pursuits and the people famously involved with them.
From Cornelius Dusart’s Le Fete de Village (Village Fair), 1685 to Harriet Whitney Frishmuth’s The Dancers, 1921, to Carol Wax’s Photo Reelism, 1999 artists have treated the theme in novel and idiosyncratic ways. For example, Seong Moy saw the circus as an opportunity to expand on his theory of abstraction while Swietlan Nicholas Kraczyna used two costumed dancers to explore and further master color etching. Additionally, there is often an emotional element coloring the viewer’s perception. William Gropper’s Composition for Race, circa 1935 instills an energy that adds excitement to the scene where Wooden Horses, 1936 by Reginald Marsh offers a disquieting vision of a popular carnival ride. Coupled with candid pictures of 20th century celebrities like Lucille Ball, Groucho Marx and Bob Hope, That’s Entertainment offers a different view of a field that has become one of the world’s major industries.