Realism artist Kevin Grass explores sexism and its effects upon the feminine self-image in this acrylic on panel painting. The composition of Clown is indebted to the painting he saw in the Louvre, Paris, years ago that is known as the Presumed Portrait of Gabrielle d’Estrées and Her Sister, the Duchess of Villars by an unknown artist from the Ecole de Fontainebleau that was created circa 1594.
Kevin was also inspired by the British Electropop band Goldfrapp's song "Clowns" which includes the following lyrics:
"Only clowns would play with those ballons
What d'ya wanna look like Barbie for"
Finally, a billboard on Highway U.S. 19 North in Clearwater, Florida, that Kevin saw advertising plastic surgery by showing a woman with large "top shelf breasts" was another element that contributed to his desire to create this piece.
The young child in the background looking at the Swimsuit Edition calendar shows that in contemporary American society, girls are conditioned at an early age to aspire to having a certain body type to be considered beautiful. The humorous scene in the foreground shows just how ridiculous the expectations of feminine beauty have become, that a young woman as lovely as this one would contemplate exaggerating her assets in order to please male fantasies. Kevin Grass shows that the men who desire such attributes are shallow jesters, not worthy of our respect. He uses humor in this painting to draw attention to a serious social issue. Your first reaction to the painting is that it is supposed to make you laugh. But then, Kevin hopes that you will look at the details long enough to realize that his message is worthy of significant dialogue.