The modern circus was born in the 1770s in England; thereafter several circus groups were established in France, Germany and the United States. In Japan, many circus groups from overseas, including American Risley Circus which came in 1864, performed. On the other hand, Japanese acrobats went abroad to perform and Japanese native circus groups have been active since then in Japan.

In Western countries, Impressionist painters showed their interest in the life of acrobats and the formal beauty of their circus acts, and then created artwork. Artists on exhibit such as Picasso, Matisse, Rouault, Chagall, Leger, Klee, Buffet and Calder overlapped their lives with acrobats’ lives and became fascinated by the circus world. Japanese artists such as Sotaro Yasui, Seiji Togo, Kinosuke Ebihara and Kiyoshi Hasegawa went to France and saw works with circus images and became influenced by those works. Also, in Japan, artists such as Toshiyuki Hasekawa, Ei Kawanishi, Koshiro Onchi and Eikyu created works with the circus theme.

Around 90 works with circus images by 9 overseas artists and 18 Japanese artists will be on exhibit. Looking at works created by artists who captured the charm of the circus acts will enable us to relive the circus atmosphere and greet clowns in the circus backstage.

Exhibition Details

From July 14th (Sat.) to September 2nd (Sun.), 2007
(closed Mondays except July 16)
Seiji Togo Memorial Sompo Japan Museum of Art
1-26-1, Nishi-Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 160-8338
Sompo Japan Headquarters build. 42nd floor
Open Hours
10:00-18:00 (Admittance by 17:30)
10:00-20:00 (Fridays, Admittance by 19:30)
Adults: 1,000yen (800yen)
University & High School Students: 600 yen (500yen)
Senior Citizens (65 years and more): 800yen
Children of Junior High School or under: Free
( ) indicated discount rates for groups of 20 and more
Organized by
Seiji Togo Memorial Sompo Japan Museum of Art
The Sankei Shimbun
Supported by
Sompo Japan Insurance Inc.


Bernard Buffet
≪My Circus , Learned Dog≫1968
Sotaro Yasui
≪Festival Day in Paris≫1912
Paul Klee