What is Caricature?
through sketching, pencil strokes or through other artistic drawings’. Personally, I think that sums it up pretty well, and we don’t need to go on to the famous caricaturists, the history of the caricature, or a list of caricature museums (though I should mention that they also have one in Warsaw and Mexico City, though the only reason that I visited this one was not due to a burning desire to visit a caricature museum, but rather that it looked, and sounded, interesting – and I get in at half-price).
Politicians with Big Noses
While there is some elements of caricature in shows like The Simpsons, in reality, they fall more under the definition of satire. In a way satire and caricatures are two sides of the same coin – satire tends to take the form of writing, or a story, while caricatures tend to (but not always) take the form of static art. Where the two styles meet are probably in shows like the Simpsons (and similarly with Futurama). I would probably throw Family Guy in there as well, but that seems to be much more low brow than proper satire (as exemplified in works by Jonathon Swift). However, the one thing that satire tended to focus on was the actions of politicians, though interestingly it is really only in the democracies that the caricaturist was able to survive (though somewhere very, very subtle in their works, or they simply poked fun at those who were not in power).
In a way this is why the work of the satirist and the caricaturist were able to develop in places such as American and England – there was a freedom of expression, even if it was only implied. Sure, some authors, such as Swift, were still very subtle in their work, or poked fun a people that didn’t have the influence to be able to make their life miserable (and during war the enemy has always been a suitable target, as well as the Irish). However, despite there being some semblance of a democracy (even though it could be considered fledgling), in a way Britain for much of the 18th Century was effectively a one-party state ruled by Robert Walpole: he seemed to have a habit of winning elections (much in the way that the Liberal Party seems to be able to do here in Australia).
Mind you, while there was some form of parliamentary representation in England which had the effect of reigning in the powers of the king, it didn’t necessarily make it a proper democratic government. Not only was the vote restricted to a very small minority (usually white males who owned a certain amount of property), the House of Commons, so-called because it was made up of commoners, had to deal with the House of Lords, so-called because it was made up of aristocrats appointed by the king. While these days the House of Lords pretty much acts as a rubber stamp, back then it had a lot more influence. However, despite all of these problems (and especially with the existence of ‘Rotten Boroughs’, which were electorates where there was basically only a single voter, who was usually the person representing the borough), England did operate fairly smoothly (that is until Lord North came along and upset the colonies to the point that they revolted).
Anyway, that was a bit of a digression, but anyway here is an image of Robert Walpole that was doing the rounds at the time.
The museum (or should I call it an art gallery, though it seems that only Commonwealth countries have art galleries that don’t sell art, though even that is incorrect because Singapore follows the non-British tradition is calling Art Galleries museums) had two levels, and I suspect that the displays in both of the levels were temporary (though since I am not an inhabitant of Frankfurt I cannot actually say for sure). Anyway, the ground floor had drawings mainly of celebrities, however, interestingly enough they weren’t caricatures in the traditional sense, which makes me wonder why it was that they happened to be in a caricature museum. My suspicion is because they happen to be famous, and also happen to be modern. Okay, not all of them are strictly modern, but they at least existed in my lifetime, and have been strutting their stuff while I have been alive. However, even though the subjects are famous, they aren’t created in the way that a proper caricature is created – that is that their features are exaggerated.
Sean and Leo for example.
I should mention that even though I have included a video, and a picture, of Ozzy on this post I am not that huge a fan namely because when Ozzy and Black Sabbath decided to get back together and do a world tour I decided not to go to the concert. However, I’m one of those people that tends to develop an interest in a band, or a singer, long after I have any chance of seeing them live (or as with the case of David Bowie, within two weeks of him dying).
Oh, and while this may not be a picture of a Celebrity, it is one that did capture my attention, entitled “Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, on Ice”. While I could speculate on its meaning (and in a way am tempted to do so), I think I’ll just leave it as is.
And of course, we have these guys who, unlike most celebrities and rock stars, seem to have worked out how to live the rock and roll lifestyle and live to a ripe old age to be able to tell their grandchildren all about it.
Mocking the Rulers
Okay, I’m sure we all know what that symbol represents, but who that guy is (I suspect that he is the CEO of the company), and why he is pushing it up a steep incline, I have no idea. Possibly it has something to the with Mercedes being in some sort of trouble, but because I am not German, and don’t know anything about what Mercedes was going through (and also since I didn’t take a photo of the title of the caricature either) what this cartoon is poking fun at is beyond me.
This one sort of makes a little more sense namely because I recognise the Cologne Cathedral, and the two clown hats of the SPD and the CDU (the two major political parties in Germany). I guess it is suggesting that there is an interconnection between the church and state, and in a way, the parties are simply two arms of the same organisation – but this isn’t a conspiratorial, world-conquering, connection, but a rather comical one where all parties – the church and the state as represented by the two political parties, are simply little more than jokes. However, it is interesting that despite the fact that Europe is a pretty secular entity in and of itself that the perception of the church having such influence in German politics is surprising. However why he is holding a beer is a little confusing, but maybe it simply refers to the comic, indulgent ruling class rising out of the putrid of its own making.
The other problem that I encountered was a problem with language. Sure, I know a bit of German, and according to Duo Lingo I have a 25% fluency (though that is according to Duo Lingo, and while I might get answers right there, it is completely different when I have to read the language, or even speak it, without assistance, though my ability to read is much better than my ability to speak), but that doesn’t necessarily mean that I can actually understand the intricacies of the language, particularly when it comes to political commentary and cartoons. You’ll actually find the same problem when attempting to communicate with non-English speakers, especially when you are using slang.
Anyway, here is an example of one of these cartoons, which basically makes no sense unless you can understand the caption (which in all honesty I don’t):
Anyway, before I finish off, here are some more caricatures that were on display at the museum including this one of Santa, which no doubt paints a much more sinister picture of the jolly old man from the North Pole who travels the world delivering presents to everybody, though in this multicultural and globalised world, we do have a tendency to forget that there are an awful lot of children out there who don’t believe in Santa and aren’t from a Christian background, which goes to show that no matter how much we try to secularise Christmas, it is still a Christian holiday and Santa is still a representative of Christianity, even though people like to claim that Santa is nothing more than an anagram of Satan who exists only to distract us from the birth of Christ – maybe that is why Santa looks so sinister in this picture because his ultimate purpose is to overrule the true meaning of Christian.
And here is another one that I have no idea as to the meaning of because, well, I’m not German, I just speak the language.
Though this one may be a bit more familiar, or at least the actors in it:
One thought on “Caricatures – Mocking with Art”
Thanks for another excellent article. Where else could anybody get that kind of information in such a perfect way of writing? I’ve a presentation next week, and I am on the look for such information.