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Monday, August 16, 2010

Cartoons Now and Then

Cartoon for a
stained glass window,
Edward Burne-Jones,
Much has been made recently regarding the fact that painting is no longer capable of making an earth-shaking impact on the world at large as in the days of Gericault, Manet, Picasso, Kandinsky, or Warhol. Yet today, one remnant of the art world closely associated with painting in the past still can have a discernible impact. The vehicle for that moving and shaking is the cartoon, especially the editorial cartoon. Images from artists like Herblock and Trudeau have been known to drive Presidents and P.R. agents alike to near hysteria.


The Discussion, 
Honore Daumier, 1864 
Derived from the Italian word "cartone", meaning paper, cartoons were originally full-scale line drawings used in the creation of stained glass windows, frescoes and tapestries. (see above) In 1843, in London, the term was appropriated to include humorous published drawings that parodied cartoons submitted for the fresco decoration of the houses of Parliament. The key element in cartoons as we know them today is caricature, and one of the earliest practitioners of this needling craft was the French painter, Honore Daumier. In the mid 1800's he raised caricature to a high art displaying mocking figures of French politicians and bureaucrats rich with sharp, dry wit. At his death, he left a collection of some 4,000 such painted and inked works of art--a very major part of his lifetime work.

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