The Art of the Editorial CartoonNovember 7 - November 28, 2001
Chip BokJim BorgmanJeff DanzigerWalter HandelsmanRob RogersMike SmithEd SorelJeff StahlerAnn TelnaesSigne Wilkinson
The word cartoon derives from the Italian cartone, a drawing used in the preparation of large fresco paintings. Following the invention of the printing press the word expanded in meaning to include both a technical and contextual meaning, as printed line drawings were included in political pamphlets and broadsides, often representing unflattering caricatures of political figures.
Though twentieth century serial comics, and to a greater extent film animation, links the word's primary meaning to children’s entertainment, cartoons used for political commentary have antique origins. Graffiti survives on the ruined walls of ancient Roman buildings, the spontaneity and unofficial technique indicating early attempts to express controversial or irreverent opinion in a public forum. The success of print media eventually legitimized the form, but without diminishing its fundamentally subversive purpose. In today's intensified visual culture the political cartoon remains a firmly established aspect of public discourse.
William Hogarth, the eighteenth century English painter of social satire is credited with establishing the tradition of the political cartoon as we know it today. In the century following Hogarth’s work the editorial cartoon grew exponentially, along with the rapid evolution of the modern newspaper. Well-known nineteenth century examples abound in all varieties. For effectiveness there is John Tenniel’s famous Dropping the Pilot, probably the most reproduced political cartoon in history. And Thomas Nast’s caricature treatment of William "Boss" Tweed is better known today than his racist stereotypes of New York's immigrant population, though both illustrate popular tendencies in the editorial cartoon of the 1800’s. But the cartoonist who best underscores the theme of this exhibit is Honoré Daumier, who was encouraged by nineteenth century poet and art critic Charles Baudelaire to translate his editorial lithographs to canvas, recognizing in Daumier an artist, not just a cartoonist.
The ten artists in this exhibition exemplify the notion that in editorial cartooning the skillful hand of the artist is essential for successful communication, no matter how clever or funny the initial concept. Line drawing continues as the dominant technique. It is extraordinary how each of these artists has developed an utterly unique approach. From Ed Sorel’s densely atmospheric sketching, to Jeff Stahler’s minimal outlines, each displays a personal touch - a unique sensibility that gives their final cartoons a visual immediacy only good drawing can produce.
These are all original works. Look closely and you will see editing with whiteout, lettering attached with Scotch tape, a faint underlying pencil layout, but everywhere the skillful, confident hand and experienced eye of artists.
Exhibition checklistChip BokRocket Science ... imageink on bristol 2001Islam Hijackink on bristol 2001Jim BorgmanThe Weakest Link ... imageink on bristol 2001Raunchy TVink on bristol 2001Jeff DanzigerBuffy the Taliban Slayer ... imageink, collage, tape, white-out on paper 2001Its the President Calling from Someplace Safeink, collage, tape, white-out on paper 2001Walter HandelsmanWe're Winning, They're Losing ... imageink & collage on duoshade 2001Rob RogersHoney, I Shrunk the Surplus ...ink and white-out on bristol 2001Moving this Mountainink and white-out on bristol 2001Mike SmithIt's Good to get Back to Normal ... imageink on bristol 2001Ed SorelExegesis, or Realty Reality ... imageink on paper mounted on board 2001Saturdayink on paper mounted on board 2001Jeff StahlerI Decided to Knit a Sweaterink and white-out on bristol 2001I'm Looking for any Post September 11th Humor ... imageink and white-out on bristol 2001Ann TelnaesAim Carefully, Please ... imageink and colored pencil on bristol 2001Study for "Aim Carefully, Please"ink and colored pencil on paper 2001Milosevic's Chickens Come Home to Roostink and colored pencil on bristol 2001Signe WilkinsonYou Don't Think We Elected the Wrong Guy, Do You? ... imageink on bristol 2001How Come We Never Know About the People who Do This?ink on bristol 2001