About This Exhibition

The carnival and circus have fascinated artists for hundreds of years. For those accustomed to restrained everyday behavior, the spectacle of the carnival or the circus allowed normal rules and conventional notions of order to be suspended. Clowns perform comedic routines and subversive stunts, animals wear clothes and walk on two legs. People with unconventional features display their bodies, participants mask their identities, and acrobats perform feats of daring. Simultaneously, social groups that would not ordinarily overlap, mingle and interact. Everyone goes to the circus­­—all genders, upper and lower classes, old and young.  

Upside Down, Topsy-Turvy, and In-Between: Images of Carnival and Circus from the Wichita Art Museum features images of the carnival and circus, what historians have called “the world between” and “the world standing on its head,” from the last century of American art.  

The exhibition is on view through August 11, 2024.

New Acquisition

Portrait of Yaima Polledo and Isabel Pozo, 2023. By Artist Kehinde Wiley.

Kehinde Wiley, Portrait of Yaima Polledo and Isabel Pozo, 2023. Oil on linen, 108 x 81 inches.
Wichita Art Museum, Museum purchase, American Art Acquisition Fund est. by friends and franchisees of Pizza Hut, in honor of Dan and Frank Carney

A monumental-sized painting titled Portrait of Yaima Polledo & Isabel Pozo, features dancers from a Cuban dance company celebrating Yoruba (Nigerian) ritual dances. Yoruba artistic and cultural traditions have influenced aspects of Black life in the Caribbean and United States, including carnival celebrations such as Mardi Gras.

The Wichita Art Museum is thrilled to announce its first major art purchase supported by its new American Art Acquisition Fund is by renowned painter and sculptor Kehinde Wiley. Wiley, widely regarded as “one of the leading artistic voices of this generation,” is known for his monumental portraits of Black people, often in poses and settings that reference famous European images of emperors and kings. His official portrait of President Barack Obama was unveiled at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery in 2018 to record-breaking crowds.