Sunday, October 14, 2007

Sunday Poster Gallery: Circus Busch in the 20s

The imponent Circus Busch in Berlin marked the beginning of XX century as the last great European circus building. Opened by Paul Busch, it resisted the advent of the movies with his wagnerian-size pantomimes on historical and mythological themes.

In the 20’s, when the screen took the crown for the visual spectacle, Busch turned toward the strange, the inusual and the dark, reflecting the uncertain athmospere of the Weimar years.

So, from the predictable trained monkeys, the barnumian freaks or acrobatic prodigies, Busch promoted a series of more disturbing acts, emphasizing the domination of the natural forces or offering a glimpse on the supernatural ones (after all, Houdini was often a Busch feature). The man eated animals, survived sadistic challenges, turned himself into a radio, an hydrant or a volcano, celebrated the jewish masculinity or the feminine ability of seeing the future.

The Busch posters, almost often printed by Friedlander, began to reflect the unique stylized and often hallucinated of the German graphics in the 20s. In those years Busch was the temple of celebrated Hanussen the clairvoyant, killed after predicting the Reichstag fire.

Under a later conflagration, the Berlin bombing of 1945, human hydrants or death-defyng strongmen sadly were not there, to save Circus Busch from his final destruction. And his world of demons, rigurgitators, and magicians on the edge of suicide disappeared forever.

Today’s gallery is dedicated to the last era of this German cahtedral of the strange, when live entertainment could still give the thrills of the dark and unknown.

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