Margaret Bourke-White, At the Circus, ca. 1931
Lisette Model, Circus, New York, 1945
Weegee, [Circus acrobat Josephine Barricini distortion], 1950s
The modern circus began at the end of the eighteenth century, primarily as an equestrian event, but rope dancers, jugglers, acrobats, and wild animals soon joined the trick riders in the ring. Also during this time, circuses became both permanently housed and traveled as well, with the circus of Philip Astley of England leading the way in England and across Europe.
The circus remains a favorite subject for photographers; Henri Cartier-Bresson, Margaret Bourke-White, and many others have photographed troupes in the United States, Russia, and elsewhere.
If you’re in New York City and a circus fan, the Big Apple Circus is in town!