Tuesday, January 21, 2014

George Price's Carnival

This original illustration of carnival performers by George Price was offered on eBay in 2012. Over the course of that year, the opening bid was reduced from $1,500 to $1,000. I am not aware of it finding a buyer.

The seller stated that this piece was created for the New Yorker, but there is reason to doubt this. While Price was indeed a cartoonist for the magazine, this is certainly not a typical gag cartoon with a caption but more of an illustration. If this was intended as for the New Yorker circa 1960, there would be no need for any color as the editorial content of the magazine was strictly black and white then. It seems more likely to be an illustration for a book or for some other magazine.
George Price, Carnival performers

George Price, Carnival performers

January 24, 2014 Update:  Reader David from Manhattan points out that the sideshow performer with three balls distorting his mouth appears in a famous photograph by Robert Frank. The photograph dates from 1958, making it possible that George Price used it as source material for this illustration. In 1972, the photo became much more widely known when it was used as the cover art for the "Exile on Main Street" album by the Rolling Stones, but this fact is likely unrelated to the Price artwork.
Robert Frank, Tattoo Parlor, 8th Avenue, New York City, 1958
It is also possible that George Price saw the original publicity photographs on display at Hubert's Museum, which is where the Frank photograph might actually have been taken rather than at a tattoo parlor. Individual images from the display Frank photographed have been used to publicize a recent "Exile on Main Street" reissue.


February 12, 2014 Update:  This artwork was previously offered by Illustration House.

Note:  Information about the publication history of this piece would be most welcome. Additional blog posts about George Price may be seen here.


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