CIRCUS | The Artist as Saltimbanque; | Illustrations by Walter Bachinski. Various.
CIRCUS | The Artist as Saltimbanque; | Illustrations by Walter Bachinski.
CIRCUS | The Artist as Saltimbanque; | Illustrations by Walter Bachinski.
CIRCUS | The Artist as Saltimbanque; | Illustrations by Walter Bachinski.
CIRCUS | The Artist as Saltimbanque; | Illustrations by Walter Bachinski.
CIRCUS | The Artist as Saltimbanque; | Illustrations by Walter Bachinski.
CIRCUS | The Artist as Saltimbanque; | Illustrations by Walter Bachinski.
CIRCUS | The Artist as Saltimbanque; | Illustrations by Walter Bachinski.

CIRCUS | The Artist as Saltimbanque; | Illustrations by Walter Bachinski.

Shanty Bay, Ontario: Shanty Bay Press, 2011. Large Quarto; 37.8 x 26.6 cm. Cased in quarter black cloth, with Somegami paper over boards; the cover papers are illustrated with black and red pochoirs; title blocked in red to the spine; plain black endpapers; all edges trimmed. Housed in a matching black cloth covered slipcase. pp. [9], vi-x, [2], 3-52, [6] [72 pages]. A fine copy. The text was set in Deepdene type, and printed on 200 gsm Arches cover paper. Illustrated by Walter Bachinski with four full page pochoirs and eight linocuts, printed in multiple colours. One of 60 copies, of which this is number 43 of 55 for sale. Signed in pencil by Bachinski and Butler on the colophon page. Accompanied by a laid in copy of the prospectus.

Comprising texts by Mark Twain, Apollinaire, Cyril Beaumont, Jules Laforgue, Jean Cocteau, Henry Miller, Baudelaire, and Rilke. The French and German texts are provided in English translation. Apollinaire is best represented, with three of his appreciations of Picasso printed, including the poem Pablo Picasso, along with his poems Phantom of the Clouds and Dusk. Item #185

“This is the second Shanty Bay Press publication on the circus. After our first effort, I felt there were many possibilities still to be explored.

At the turn of the 19th century many artists, writers, musicians & dancers identified themselves with the circus, primarily as performers. One thinks of Picasso and his work from the blue and rose periods. In his early masterpiece of 1905, Family of Saltimbanques, now in the National Gallery in Washington, the harlequin in the painting bears a striking resemblance to the young Picasso who was just 24 when he painted it. He spent many evenings at the Cirque Medrano, was on intimate terms with the performers and identified himself as one of them. It was a subject that was to preoccupy him throughout his long working life. Picasso’s artistic influences would have been Daumier’s paintings of circus scenes and, of course, Cezanne’s painting of Pierrot and Harlequin. I have included descriptions of the early paintings of Picasso by the great French lyrical poet Apollinaire, who in turn was placed by the artist as the heavy, seated, jester in the Family of Saltimbanques.

Many of the artists who have influenced me directly, or have stimulated my artistic career, are artists from this period. I, myself, have used circus imagery in many of my pastels for years and the circus has fascinated me ever since I was a young boy. For this book I have assembled a variety of writings loosely based on the idea of the artist and the circus. I have created a cycle of pochoirs and colour linocuts inspired by the texts. The bold colour is used to accentuate the rhythm, movements and noise of performance. I visualize this book as a presentation that is similar to to an actual visit to a circus. So for the richest experience, it is best to go through it completely in one sitting, just as you would a circus performance.

The short texts that make up the book are quite different both in style and in content, from one another. They are funny, surreal, serious and poignant; all having to do with the circus. Together with the illustrations, I want the reader to share in the excitement that I have always felt when at the circus. There are three rings of simultaneous activity, with something completely different often happening in each one.

What is it about the circus that draws so many diverse artists to explore its real? Is it the allure of risk and danger, of living on the edge, about the performance that cannot fail? Nijinski becomes Petrushka, while Baudelaire, his own career in decline, identifies with the old acrobat and Henry Miller, influenced by his love of French painting of the time, sees himself as a clown. There are so many aspects to the circus, so much layering, so much deception and artifice. To me, it is a metaphor for art. I hope you enjoy the offering!”

Walter Bachinski, from the preface.


From the boards pale Harlequin
First salutes the spectators
Sorcerers from Bohemia
Fairies sundry enchanters

Guillaume Apollinaire, Crépuscule, published 1909, written in 1905 as “Spectacle”.

Price: $3,000.00

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