We were looking for circus images for inspiration and came by chance on the work of Robert Riggs (1896-1970). In his day he was one of the great American illustrators apparently but every biog we read spoke of his achievements, awards, work in national collections and that today he is hardly spoken about.
He sounds a character in the way that we really appreciate at TheBigForest. He ran away to the circus as a young boy, had a thing about pet snakes, lived alone in a house full of native north american artifacts and generally was his own man and didn’t follow the crowd. We can see why his work became unfashionable – the images of farmers and soldiers are heavy and solid almost in the style of socialist realism – but there is so much to enjoy in his images of circuses and the fairground rides of Coney Island. We particularly loved a lithograph called Tumblers of 1934. It captures the hazy light of the big top and the surreal quality of a man on stilts and two pigs with violins waiting to dash out to entertain the audience.
So there you go, a celebration of Robert Riggs, who we will ensure – in our own small way – is still spoken about today.