The Barker, 1931

The Barker, 1931

Reginald Marsh
American, b. France 1898-1954

The Barker, 1931
etching on wove paper
10 x 8 inches
Collection purchase
Syracuse University Art Collection, 1964.075
© The Art Students League of New York/ Artist Rights Society (ARS), New York

 

This etching shows a 1930s Coney Island sideshow at night. Two scantily clad female performers, one of whom has her arms tied to a cross, are flanked by a male barker striving to attract the attention of the audience. He is aided by a small man (at the time called a sideshow “freak”) holding a sword. Below the stage, Marsh depicts a diverse audience of women, black working-class men, and white men in suits. This depiction of an economically and racially diverse audience records the unprecedented mix of social classes attending popular entertainments in the 1930s.

Huiwen (Angela) Zhang

 

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The Best Show is the People Themselves: Reginald Marsh’s New York