Sense of Humor: Caricature, Satire, and the Comical from Leonardo to the Present at National Gallery of Art, July 15, 2018 – January 6, 2019

“Prints and drawings have consistently served as popular media for humor in art. Prints, which can be widely replicated and distributed, are ideal for institutional mockery and social criticism, while drawings, unmediated and private, allow for free rein of the imagination. Sense of Humor will celebrate the rich yet often overlooked tradition of humor in works on paper, ranging from the 15th to 20th century. The exhibition is organized broadly chronologically, tracing the variety of forms that comical prints and drawings have taken over time, from Renaissance caricature to British satire in the 18th century and counterculture comics of the late 1960s. Drawn entirely from the Gallery’s collection, works are by artists including Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Jacques Callot, William Hogarth, Francisco de Goya, Honoré Daumier, George Herriman, Alexander Calder, Roger Brown, the Guerrilla Girls, and Art Spiegelman. Many works will be shown for the first time.” — National Gallery of Art

“Humor is a fundamental element of the human experience, and has too often been overlooked in the history of art,” said Earl A. Powell III, director, National Gallery of Art, Washington. “This exhibition takes a closer look at the many ways comedic works of art—specifically works on paper—have been used to elicit a laugh, make a critique, or reveal a truth. This exhibition would truly not have been possible without the extraordinary depth and breadth of our collection of prints and drawings.”

Richard Hamilton, The critic laughs, 1968. Laminated photo-offset color lithograph, screen print from one stencil, enamel paint, with collage. National Gallery of Art, Washington, Gift of William M. Speiller

Robert Crumb (artist, author), Apex Novelties (publisher), Zap #1, 1968. 28-page paperback bound volume with half-tone and offset lithograph illustrations in black and cover in full color, sheet: 24.13 x 17.15 cm (9 1/2 x 6 3/4 in.), open: 24.13 x 34.29 cm (9 1/2 x 13 1/2 in.). National Gallery of Art, Washington, Gift of William and Abigail Gerdts

Roger Brown, The Jim and Tammy Show, 1987. Color lithograph on wove paper, sheet: 55.25 x 81.92 cm (21 3/4 x 32 1/4 in.). National Gallery of Art, Washington, Gift of Bob Stana and Tom Judy

Guerrilla Girls, The Advantages of Being a Woman Artist, 1988. Offset lithograph in black on wove paper, overall: 43.2 x 56 cm (17 x 22 1/16 in.). National Gallery of Art, Washington, Gift of the Gallery Girls in support of the Guerrilla Girls

Francesco Melzi after Leonardo da Vinci. Two Grotesque Heads, pen and brown ink, overall (approximate): 4.5 x 9.9 cm (1 3/4 x 3 7/8 in.). National Gallery of Art, Washington, Gift of Mrs. Edward Fowles

Pieter van der Heyden after Pieter Bruegel the Elder. The Ass at School, 1557. Engraving, sheet (trimmed to plate mark): 23.6 x 30.4 cm (9 5/16 x 11 15/16 in.). National Gallery of Art, Washington, Gift of Mrs. Jane C. Carey as an addition to the Addie Burr Clark Memorial Collection

Jacques Callot, Gobbi and Other Bizarre Figures, 1616/1617. Pen and iron gall ink with a partial sketch in graphite at upper left on laid paper, overall: 12 x 14.1 cm (4 3/4 x 5 9/16 in.). National Gallery of Art, Washington, Ailsa Mellon Bruce Fund

Jusepe de Ribera, The Drunken Silenus, 1628. Etching on laid paper, sheet (cut within platemark): 27.2 x 35.3 cm (10 11/16 x 13 7/8 in.). National Gallery of Art, Washington, Patrons’ Permanent Fund

Rembrandt van Rijn, Self-Portrait in a Cap: Laughing, 1630. Etching sheet (trimmed to plate mark): 5.3 x 4.4 cm (2 1/16 x 1 3/4 in.). National Gallery of Art, Washington, Rosenwald Collection

William Hogarth, Strolling Actresses Dressing in a Barn, 1738. Etching and engraving, sheet: 46.7 x 62.8 cm (18 3/8 x 24 3/4 in.). National Gallery of Art, Washington, Rosenwald Collection

Giovanni Francesco Costa, Scholars Consulting Books and a Globe, c. 1747. Etching, hand-colored with watercolor and gouache, on laid paper, plate: 20.4 x 29.7 cm (8 1/16 x 11 11/16 in.), sheet: 23.2 x 33.1 cm (9 1/8 x 13 1/16 in.). National Gallery of Art, Washington, New Century Fund

James Gillray, Wierd-Sisters; Ministers of Darkness; Minions of the Moon, 1791. Etching, engraving and aquatint printed in sepia on wove paper, with publisher’s hand-coloring and inscriptions by Gillray, plate: 24.9 x 35.1 cm (9 13/16 x 13 13/16 in.), sheet: 26.9 x 37.9 cm (10 9/16 x 14 15/16 in.). National Gallery of Art, Washington, Anonymous Gift

Francisco de Goya, Ya van desplumados (There They Go Plucked), 1797/1798. Etching, burnished aquatint and drypoint [working proof, before letters], plate: 21.6 x 15.2 cm (8 1/2 x 6 in.), sheet: 26.3 x 20 cm (10 3/8 x 7 7/8 in.). National Gallery of Art, Washington, Rosenwald Collection

Francisco de Goya, Los caprichos (first edition), published 1799. 1 vol: 80 etchings, aquatints, drypoints, and burins. National Gallery of Art, WashingtonRosenwald Collection

The exhibition is organized by the National Gallery of Art, Washington. It is curated by Jonathan Bober, Andrew W. Mellon Senior Curator of Prints and Drawings; Judith Brodie, curator and head of the department of American and modern prints and drawings; and Stacey Sell, associate curator, department of old master drawings, all National Gallery of Art, Washington.

Images courtesy National Gallery of Art.