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Benjamin Kopman

Three Clowns

Russian-born Benjamin Kopman immigrated to New York with his family in 1903 and attended the National Academy of Design from 1905 to 1909, where he excelled at figurative studies. Clowns have long been a favorite subject for artists because they live on the margins of society, just close enough to taunt its pretenses without censure. As caricatures of human nature, they are at once foolish and clever, bitterly alienated and wantonly affable. Kopman conveys compassion for the plight of his downtrodden subjects by capturing them in a moment of repose. Even at the figures’ most vulnerable, the distortions his brush creates make them appear somewhat inhuman. He plays upon their ugliness, even exaggerating it, in an effort to give the work deeper meaning.

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