Sunday, April 11, 2010

In our living room...

My favorite thing about caricature is the way that it comes to us, the way it can so effortlessly enter our lives, and our living rooms, with out my noticing. I guess I entered this class with a limited view of caricature (something closer the what Diane Burrows was demonstrating) and have found the class to be a pleasant surprise. But when I consider that Hogarth and his contemporaries’ prints were used as wallpaper, that the comic page comes to your door each morning with the newspaper, and the Simpsons blare out from your TV screen I am amazed at how often I have encountered caricature- something that I was certain I knew nothing about. In some ways I think that perhaps they have become so easily accessible to me that I don’t even notice them anymore, or at least I haven’t considered the satirical/ artistic aspect quite as much as a slap-stick humor. What I enjoyed the most about the reading was simply being reminded that The Simpons was mirroring our culture. That the Simpsons’ family was watching the TV from there sofas, same as we watched them, they represent us, and lampoon us, and we laugh, we print shirts with sayings like “eat my shorts man” and put words like “D’oh” in our dictionaries- all because of a cartoon. Growing up I watched this program with my parents, while I easily enjoyed the humor, the pranks, and the predictable storyline that comes so easily once you “know” each character’s role and subsequent idiosyncrasies I was young at the time and most of the jokes were probably over my head. I was trying to consider the moments in which “fine art” and “high-art” mediums had so easily crossed over the threshold of the home and seamlessly entered our daily lives. Surprisingly, I could really only think of two examples, both of which are superbly kitsch (at least in my opinion) Bob Ross and Thomas Kinkade. While I am in no way promoting either artist, Wikipedia estimates that 1 in 20 households owns a Thomas Kinkade print or memorabilia of his idyllic settings and who knows how many viewers Bob Ross had in his twelve years of painting “happy little trees” on The Joy of Painting. Caricature is not only accessible in terms of content, but also in the fact that it is so easily obtained. It doesn’t require trips to museums and galleries, or long viewing lines, or more than a few dollars to own, we probably all have some sitting around our houses without even knowing it was there. I wonder if it is possible for “fine” art to become a part of our daily lives as well?

1 comment:

  1. Bob Ross Caricatured the artist for sure. He was the American type for the " do-it -yourself" artist. How many art teachers hated this guy with a passion? I admit I once tried to paint like him and even have a book of his step by step paintings. There was something so calming about his show... perfect for napping. But everyone has their way of making a living and this was his way. Even though America has made his show and persona impossible to resist to comics he has been an icon I think in our mass culture