Caricature, Satire, and Comedy of Manners: Works on Paper from the 18th through 20th Centuries, February 13–August 15, 2010, Works on Paper Gallery
Pittsburgh, PA…Carnegie Museum of Art is pleased to present Caricature, Satire, and Comedy of Manners: Works on Paper from the 18th through 20th Centuries, from February 13 to August 15, 2010. Humor, flattery, critique, protest, mockery, stereotype, distortion, and the grotesque are some of the ideas evoked by the artworks in this exhibition. More than 70 prints and drawings on view range from lighthearted and whimsical to dark and unsettling. Though produced in different centuries, the artworks are united through the use of archetypes, stereotypes, double meaning, and deep-seated cultural associations, which together build images that are at once instantly meaningful, ambiguous, and multifaceted.
“The exhibition offers an intriguing investigation into art forms that rely on various sources like old jokes or folklore,” said Amanda Zehnder, organizer of Caricature, Satire, and Comedy of Manners and assistant curator of fine arts at Carnegie Museum of Art. “The subject matter is varied from political protests, to lighthearted whimsy, to grim distortion. Some of the works ridicule specific individuals, while others focus on general social types. And while some artists revealed personal or societal prejudices, others may have been purposely oblique in their messages in an effort to thwart censorship. Above all, the works in this exhibition challenge the audience to think critically.”
The exhibition presents works by 12 European and American artists, most from the museum of art’s collection, and features in-depth selections by Honoré Daumier, William Hogarth, and Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes. Other notable artists are Jean‑Honoré Fragonard, James Gillray, Thomas Rowlandson, Mary Darly, and Isaac Cruikshank. While the exhibition focuses on 18th- and 19th-century European art, Al Hirschfeld serves as an example of a 20th-century American artist who made his career in the tradition of caricature. Hirschfeld’s work is humorous and lighthearted in contrast to Goya’s prints, which often depict extreme, dark, nightmarish aspects of satire.
Definition of terms
The terms “caricature,” “satire,” and “comedy of manners” are all closely related and can be used in relation to a range of art forms, including the visual arts, literature, and theater. Caricature entails deliberate distortion of distinctive characteristics with the aim of producing a comic or critical commentary. Satire makes use of irony, wit, cynicism, insinuation, and mockery to criticize vice and absurdity. Comedy of manners compositions, which give the viewer the impression of seeing a slice of a larger narrative, employ caricature and satire while lambasting general social groups, most notably fashionable circles and the upper class. Social foibles and subjects revolving around romance and marriage are common.
General support for the museum’s exhibition program is provided by The Heinz Endowments, the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, and Allegheny Regional Asset District.
Carnegie Museum of Art
Located at 4400 Forbes Avenue in the Oakland section of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Museum of Art was founded by industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie in 1895. One of the four Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh, it is nationally and internationally recognized for its distinguished collection of American and European works from the 16th century to the present. The Heinz Architectural Center, part of Carnegie Museum of Art, is dedicated to enhancing understanding of the physical environment through its exhibitions, collections, and public programs. For more information about Carnegie Museum of Art, call 412.622.3131 or visit our web site at www.cmoa.org.