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October 27, 2010

A Humorous History: The Satire of Caricatures

With a history as long as that of caricature, it’s perhaps surprising that the art form has digressed very little from its most amiably satirical standpoint. Caricatures have long been an acceptable, cheeky form of something like an insult, only softer around the edges.

Personalised caricatures have served their respective sides well in terms of politics since First World War. Artists were afforded the scope to display unspeakable acts and heinous personality traits in a tolerable visual form. Similarly to mainstream children’s cartoons of today, where human blood and slaughter are forbidden and thusly substituted with armies of savaged monsters or massacred robots, the versatile art of caricatures granted wonderfully sneaky artistic licence to publically mock political or prominent figures, showing a level of brutality and scorn that would perhaps, in any other medium, have been unacceptable. Modern caricature continues to grace the pages of every newspaper and magazine, humorously demonstrating the failings and follies of our peers in its uniquely palatable form.

Contemporary personalised caricature has become somewhat of a tourist attraction in locales like Covent Garden in London, and on the mainland European streets in the likes of Paris, Barcelona and Rome. In these terms, caricature is no more or less than a gentle bespoke spoof. The place of caricature in contemporary street art and performance is undisputed and remains largely unchanged. Of course being able to see the funny side of a particularly biting personalised caricature is certainly necessary before engaging the services of many street caricature artists.

In a world filled with impersonal luxury and uniformity, personalised gifts mark a gesture of authenticity so often lacking in gift giving. It’s perhaps this hunt for “the personal touch” that’s currently boosting the trade of caricature artists. Unique and witty, in all likelihood the art of caricature will continue its life narrations for many satirically endowed years to come.

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