Caricatures show us what isn’t obvious, by using visual and/or verbal exaggeration. Thus, they wake us up from our peaceful slumber by poking us with a funny wand.
Check out Edward Sorel’s caricature of the “Clods.”
Edward Sorel, "In Clods We Trust," 2007. Pen, ink and watercolor, 20 x 16 inches. Appeared in Rolling Stone, June 29, 2006.
Did you read the Newspaper this morning? If you didn’t, I recommend that you find it now, and go through it page by page. Don’t read anything. Just look. Do you see those pictures? Now classify them as photographs and illustrations. What’s the ratio of the two in your newspaper? I did the same exercise and discovered that the ratio was 42 to 3 or 14 to 1! Among the three illustrations, there was one “tree”, one “cartoon”, and only one “caricature.”
Now time-track back about a century and a half! Close your eyes and try to see the newspaper? What do you see? You see a lot of illustrations, cartoons, and caricatures. You see meanings being loaded into the faces and the bodies of the politicians – suddenly, you find yourself viewing an interpretation of an event – and not its snapshot! A caricature is not just the picture formed on your retina, it is the picture understood by the mind – and the newspapers in those days were full of caricatures and cartoons…hilarious, sarcastic, witty, biting, caustic, romantic…the newspapers then were more alive!
So meet President Bush and President Clinton in this caricature by Gary Varvel, and wonder how a photograph could’ve caught this caustic humor.
Gary Varvel, "Which Suit Most Offends Democrats?" 2003. India ink on drawing bristol, 11 by 7.5 inches. Appeared in The Indianapolis Star.
But this is my opinion…and I am a caricaturist! You form yours. If you are in or around Durham, NC, and you are inclined towards the visual arts, you’d be interested in the exhibition “Lines of Attack: Conflicts in Caricature”, which is currently on at the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University. It began on February 04, and will continue to May 16, 2010.
Even if you aren’t in the vicinity, do visit: http://www.nasher.duke.edu/exhibitions_caricature.php to initiate a new line of thought, and wonder whether we need to review the function of caricatures in the newspapers of today.
After all, all of us have our own reasons for everything, as this caricature of President Bush and an Iraq War Veteran by Rob Rogers, illustrates.
Rob Rogers, "Iraq Forced Me to Give Up Golf, Too," 2008. Ink on Grafix 32-L Unishade Board, 12 3/4 x 9 inches. Courtesy of Rob Rogers and Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
With this I rest my case for MORE CARICATURES in the newspapers!
Important Note: The three images used in this post have been used with explicit permission from the Nasher Museum. If you’d like to use them, please contact the Nasher Museum for permissions. Thanks.
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