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March of the Clowns

Albert Bloch (American, 1882-1961)

March of the Clowns, 1941

  • Oil on canvas mounted on composition board
  • 36 x 40 in. (91.4 x 101.6 cm)
  • The Jewish Museum, New York
  • Purchase: Oscar and Regina Gruss Memorial Fund, 2001-42

On view

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March of the Clowns

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March of the Clowns

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CLOSE LOOKING / VISUAL ANALYSIS:

  • What is the mood of this painting? How does the artist create this mood?

  • Which, if any, of the figures in this painting do you recognize? Do any of these surprise you? Why?

  • What symbols do you recognize? What do they symbolize?

  • What can you tell about the setting? What do you think is going on in this image?

  • What do you think this scene would sound like?

  • What is the focal point of the painting? Describe the central imagery. How does the artist portray Hitler?




FOR FURTHER DISCUSSION:

After giving students ample opportunity to examine this painting, lead them in a discussion of related topics and themes:

  • Albert Bloch painted this canvas in 1941, four years before the end of World War II. What do you think he was trying to express about his own hopes, worries, and expectations for the war?

  • Bloch's painting includes clowns and cartoon characters. Do you think the painting is supposed to be funny? If not, why are these figures included?

  • Why do you think Bloch included the Christian cross, the Jewish star, and the star and crescent (a symbol of Islam)? How do these important symbols relate to the other images in the picture?




RESEARCH TOPICS / CONTENT CONNECTIONS:

  • American Response to the Holocaust
  • Painting
  • The Blue Rider