The Beautiful Clown

John Gutmann (American, 1905–1998)


Image/Sheet: 21.8 x 19.8 cm (8 9/16 x 7 13/16 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Photograph, gelatin silver print

Not On View


Americas, Photography



John Gutmann was born in Silesia, in what is today Poland. He immigrated to the United States in 1937, settling in San Francisco. Having worked as a photojournalist in Berlin, he was drawn to the lively social mix of his newly adopted city and was inspired to document what struck him as the exotic and unconventional aspects of American popular culture - the bustle of its street life, the ubiquitous automobile, urban graffiti, and signs. This witty pairing of a sad-eyed, painted clown and a rather predatory, heavily made-up woman is the sort of juxtaposition Gutmann particularly enjoyed, as it captured for him the “marvelous extravagance” of life in the United States.


Verso, l. l., in graphite: c/ The Beautiful Clown/ 1940; Verso, l. r., in graphite: J. G.; Verso, u. l., and repeated u. r., in graphite: 443.4


Castelli Graphics, New York; purchased April 1991.

Credit Line

Gift of Eric G. Carlson in honor of Gustav G. Carlson and Sophie M. Friedman Fund


Collection Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona
© 1998 Arizona Board of Regents