Image size 36" x 24"
A limited edition of 300 numbered impressions; 60 AP, 8 PP, signed by the artist
Image also published as poster entitled Mardi Gras Parade
, poster size 44” x 26”. This poster has a golden yellow border with text.
Without doubt the biggest party in America, Mardi Gras has distinctly French roots. A French explorer held a small Mardi Gras celebration on an island in the Mississippi River in 1699. He then sailed a bit further upriver and found the site of the future City of New Orleans. In French New Orleans, balls were held every year, but when the Spanish took control of the city the balls were banned. Thomas Jefferson bought the vast Louisiana Territory from Napoleon in 1803, but Mardi Gras remained banned until 1823, when the Creoles convinced the Americans to reinstate the balls. The rather disorganized celebrations began to take shape in 1857, when six wealthy citizens formed the Mistick Krewe of Comus, a secret organization that inaugurated daytime parades with themes and costumes. Many other krewes were formed, with equally marvelous names. Finally in 1872, a group of citizens formed a krewe called Rex, at least partly in honor of the visiting Russian Grand Duke Alexis Romanoff. Rex was soon enthroned as the King of Carnival, symbol of the holiday. Each year, “Rex Proclaims Mardi Gras”, inviting all the krewes to have their parades, and all the citizens to enjoy 12 days - yes, 12 full days - of unbridled revelry. LeRoy Neiman was invited to paint the official Rex Proclamation for 2002, and this serigraph is derived from that painting. Immersing himself, as always, in his subject, he attended last year’s celebration, attending society balls and parties and riding costumed on a float in the Rex parade.
The magnificent serigraph is a riot of color and action, showing the parade winding its way from New Orleans’ Garden District along the edge of the famous French Quarter. The air is filled with music, from Dixieland jazz and blues to gospel and rock, and also the marvelous aromas of creole and cajun cooking. In the center is the great Rex float amidst costumed knights on horseback. Behind Rex, a blown-up head of the classic Mardi Gras jester bobs above the frivolity. The “beef” acknowledges the faithful who will give up eating meat during the Lenten season. Behind the “beef” is the Streetcar Named Desire. The people on the floats throw colorful souvenir coins, beads and necklaces to the boisterous crowd. Jesters, harlequins and punchinellos dance and tumble. Napoleon rides somberly along the left flank. Up on one of the Quarter’s wonderful cast iron balconies, a spirited, shapely lovely expresses her uninhibited delight. The artist himself is in the crowd on the right, sketching participants and vignettes. With a print that absolutely pulsates with the energy and vitality of Carnival, LeRoy Neiman joyously celebrates the Mardi Gras Parade.