CLOWN PAINTINGS

Diane Keaton, Author, Diane Keaton, Editor
Diane Keaton, Author, Diane Keaton, Editor . Powerhouse $29.95 (128p) ISBN 978-1-57687-148-5
Reviewed on: 11/11/2002
Release date: 10/01/2002
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This odd book is as much a look into the dark heart of Hollywood narcissism and juice as it is an excellent introduction to a grim, fascinating artistic subgenre. Keaton writes in her introduction that she came across a Don Barclay clown painting at a Pasadena Rose Bowl Swap Meet and "had an epiphany.... All of us have begged for attention and cried out in loneliness. Each and every one of us has been surprised and hurt, over, and over, and over, again and again, just like the exhausting, repeated shock that is the life of a clown." She has been collecting clown paintings ever since, and has become a proselytizer for the unsung genre. Here Keaton has collected 66 wrenching, full-color reproductions along with the responses of fellow thespians to her collection (and the collection of L.A. gallery-owner Robert Berman), since clowns and actors have "all gone for the laugh, sold out on occasion, dressed for effect, and paraded our hearts on our sleeves." Beginning with Woody Allen, Dan Aykroyd and Roseanne Cherri Barr, Keaton's book includes reflections from Ben Stiller ("When someone says 'be funny' to me, I immediately want to hide, or punch that person in the mouth"), Steve Martin ("The Sex Life of Clowns") and Lisa Kudrow ("As a performer, I'm mostly associated with 'witless' characters. Maybe the disdain is for myself") among many other high-wattage names. This unlikely combination of clown paintings and 33 texts by mostly comedic actors yields irony levels reaching the heights of Larry David's Curb Your Enthusiasm (many comedians hate their close cousins the clowns, and particularly clown paintings)—and is every bit as entertaining and affecting. This "monstrous and hideous" (as David calls it in his contribution) collection should prove a surprise hit and justify Keaton's pounding the pavement in search of these much maligned painted faces. (Nov.)

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