John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art
Celebrities today rely on the wide distribution of their images to build audiences and enthusiasm. It was not so very different one hundred years ago for the center ring stars of the American circus. During the heyday of printed circus advertising, one of the most difficult measures of fame for performers to achieve was to merit their own “paper,” especially impressive were those select few performers whose portraits were included alongside images of their fantastic accomplishments. Posters helped potential audiences form opinions about the quality and excitement of the show that was coming to their town. Today these same posters offer modern eyes a glimpse of the extraordinary art of commercial lithography while also enticing us with the images of the men and women who entertained the masses in the early twentieth century.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website.