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Tuesday, October 2, 2012


P.T.Barnum’s Bearded Ladies, Donner Party: Lance Esplund
 
 
 

"Jumbo the Children's Giant Pet" (1882), a 4-foot-tall lithograph poster, advancing P.T. Barnum's advertising campaign "Jumbomania," is included in the Bard Graduate Center's exhibition "Circus and the City: New York, 1793-2010," which runs through Feb. 3.
Source: The Bard Graduate Center via Bloomberg
By Lance Esplund
FROM:  businessweek.com
on October 02, 2012
When Jumbo the elephant arrived in New York in 1882 he was an instant success, transforming the circus from bawdy attraction to family entertainment.
When he was killed by a locomotive, the circus display of his hide and skeleton sparked the headline: “Jumbo Stuffed a Greater Attraction than Jumbo Alive.”
The popular elephant figures prominently in the Bard Graduate Center’s big-top extravaganza, “Circus and the City: New York, 1793-2010.”
There are other exotic animals, as well as clowns, contortionists, daredevils, bearded ladies, Zulu cannibals, the “Fejee Mermaid” and General Tom Thumb, whose velvet suit, boots and tiny violin are featured artifacts.
But the star of the show is showman extraordinaire Phineas Taylor Barnum (1810-1891). You can see his faded top hat and letterhead, illustrated with a parade of animals, Siamese twins and the Last Supper.
As in life, Barnum here is hard to ignore. His unidentified visage fills one poster with the words: “I am coming.”
The show has something for all ages: It chronicles not just the evolution of the circus and its effects on New York, but also the history of graphic and fashion design, photography, toys, advertising and the rise of the Big Apple as the entertainment capital of the world.
“Circus and the City: New York 1793-2010” runs through Feb. 3 at the Bard Graduate Center Galleries, 18 W. 86th St. Information: +1-212-501-3023; http://www.bgc.bard.edu.gallery. 

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