Bird in the form of the helmet from a suit of armour – dip pen and ink drawing with watercolour wash
This is a drawing executed in traditional media – a dip pen and ink with tone added using a watercolour wash with a brush.
A cartoon about hypercritical student attitudes.
A cartoon about the trend for students’ grievances and dissatisfactions to be translated into action, such as in the form no platforming or the demands for objectionable artefacts to be removed.
The action is often seen by some as self righteous, self indulgent, censorious and intolerant (ironically, as the students often think that they are acting for the greater benefit of others).
The cartoon shows the danger of the students adopting a feeling of over entitlement and thus taking their attitudes out into the wider world beyond their colleges.
The inspiration for this image was a news story about students disapproving of a sculpture by Henry Moore, and demanding that it wasn’t displayed on their university campus.
Hieronymus Bosch cartoon
Characters like those in Hieronymus Bosch’s paintings leaving a Bosch washing machine.
This cartoon was inspired by the exhibition of Bosch paintings in the Noordbrabants Museum the city of his birth, ’s-Hertogenbosch
First published in Private Eye, March 2016.
Cartoon: “But is it art?”
A cartoon showing visitors to an art gallery looking at a painting and asking But is it art?”, the cliche expression used when the definition of art is brought into question.
The joke is that the painting that is being questioned is the Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci.
What would these gallery goers consider to be ‘proper’ art. Maybe ultracontemporary art?
A cartoon featuring a map showing the location of the Mondrian Museum. The map resembles a Mondrian painting.
This cartoon features in an exhibition in the Chris Beetles Gallery, London, (Summer 2016).
Cartoon showing a controversial depiction of gender differences in contemporary art
Depiction of gender in modern art.
Sculpture titled “Man and Woman” where the woman is a washing-up brush and the man is a hammer.
The cartoon is an illustration of the staereotypical male and female gender roles, where men perform hard physical tasks and women perform ‘soft’ domestic chores such as washing up.
Part of the joke is that the male and female roles depicted in the sculpture are extremely conservative, so this particular work of contemporary art is controversial because of its conservatism rather than (more usually with contemporary art) because of radicalism.
Of course the art work may be a piece of feminist art which is ironically pointing out and questioning the standard gender roles in society.
The sculpture depicted owes something to Marcel Duchamp, Dada and the use of ‘ready-mades’ in works of art.
Cartoon showing an artist creating a self portrait.
The self portrait looks exactly like the artist – right down to the pose.
The cartoon is partly about the self obsession of(some) artists and about the self-referencial nature of art and the introspection of artists.
Cartoon showing an artist producing a self portrait that looks exactly like him (including the pose).
The artist is a sculptor and he is carving a self portrait in stone.
The joke in the cartoon is that not only is the sculptor carving a statue, but the the sculpture (the self portrait) is also working on a self portrait too (that is just protruding into the righthand side of the cartoon).
It is a cartoon about infinite regression, where the artist is creating a self portrait that is creating a self portrait that is… and so on. Similar to a mirror reflecting a mirror that reflects the other mire that reflects the other mirror.
Cartoon about food obsession
Magritte pastiche cartoon
A cartoon about eating disorders or obsessive food disorders, drawn as an editorial illustration for an article about the subject in the Guardian newspaper
The cartoon is based on Rene Magritte’s painting of a person with an apple in front of his face
The beefburger in front of the woman’s face represents obsession with food
Notice that the hills in the background are in the form of food, and the clouds in the sky are in the form of loaves of bread – a reference to Magritte
The cartoon about surrealist art, surrealism, diets, dieting
Cartoon showing a controversial depiction of men and women in contemporary art
Cartoon depiction of gender in modern art.
Sculpture titled “Man and Woman” where the woman is a washing-up brush and the man is a hammer.
The cartoon is an illustration of the standard’ male and female gender roles, where men perform hard physical tasks and women perform domestic chores such as washing up.
Part of the joke in the cartoon is that the concept of the male and female roles depicted in the sculpture are extremely conservative, so this particular work of art is controversial because of its conservatism rather than because of radicalism (which is the usual reason why modern art is controversial).
Of course the art work may be a piece of feminist art which is pointing out and questioning the standard gender roles in society. Feminism and art are meant to be the two themes of the cartoon.
I particularly like the fact that the hammer representing masculinity is hard while the washing-up brush representing femininity is soft. Very much caricatures or cliches of gender characteristics.
The sculpture depicted owes something to Marcel Duchamp, Dada and the use of ‘ready-mades’ in works of art.
Modern art cartoon. Andy Warhol Campbells soup tin cartoon
Andy Warhol cartoon. Campbell’s Soup tin cartoon.
Cartoon of people looking at an Andy Warhol silkscreen print of a Campbells soup tin in an art gallery.
One person is saying that Andy warhol created a series of silkscreen prints of Heinz Tomato soup tins as well, but that Campbells bought the lot and they were never seem again.
Cartoon about art gallery and museum mechandising and funding.
Which works of art would look good on fridge magnets?
Cartoon showing artworks being considered for use in merchandising
Cartoon showing a meeting of staff responsible for acquiring artworks in an art gallery considering which works of art to buy, including evaluating the commercial, marketing and merchandising potential of the works of art under consideration.
The cartoon’s caption reads:
“It may indeed be a pivotially significant example of early 18th century Flemish art, but as head of merchandising I have to ask ‘What would it look like on a fridge magnet?’”
It is a cartoon about the commercialisation and commodification of artworks such as paintings and of museum artefacts. The cartoon illustrates the problem of funding art galleries and museums, and the increased reliance on museum gift shops and cafes.
Cartoon of sculptures in an art gallery
One sculpture is called “Freedom” and shows a dancing person. The other is called “Trapped” and shows only arms and legs appearing out of a plinth, as though the figure is trapper inside the plinth
An illustration about contemporary sculpture
Modern art cartoon – what is modern art about?
Questioning modern or contemporary art
In this cartoon about modern art or contemporary art a person in an art gallery is looking at a modern art painting of a question mark, and is wondering what the question mark means in the context of the artwork.
Michelangelo Sistine Chapel pastiche
A cartoon showing Michelangelo’s God creating the animals – in this case the rabbit
A pastiche of God creating Adam
Andy Warhol cartoon
A cartoon showing one of Andy Warhol’s sculptures of a Brillo Pad carton
A cartoon about product placement in art
Understanding abstract art
A cartoon showing people looking at one of the first abstract paintings and interpreting it by trying to see what it depicts.
The painting is based on a Kandinsky painting, often thought to be the earliest example of abstract art.
People instinctively interpret abstract shapes as representing real objects (such as in inkblot tests and clouds).
Rene Magritte cartoon
A pastiche of a surrealist painting by Rene Magritte – This is not an Apple or This is not a Pipe
(In French: Ceci n’est pas une pomme or Ceci n’est pas une pipe)
A reference to Apple iPhones and Samsung Galaxy phones
The image relates to surrealism, surrealist painting, visual puns
Rene Magritte caricature based on The Son of Man (French: Le fils de l’homme)
A Magritte cartoon showing a man holding a mask in front of his face (based on Magritte’s image of a man with an apple in front of his face). The mask is a likeness of Rene Magritte himself.
An image about surrealist art, artists’ portraits, surealism, modern artists
Naum Gabo cartoon
Naum Gabo was a Russian born constructivist sculptor.
He developed a style of sculpture that involved stretching fine nylon filaments between flat planes to form three dimensional mesh effects – a technique which he called stringing.
Gabo’s family name was Pevsner. He changed his name so that he wouldn’t be confused with his brother, who also produced sculpture in the style of constructivism
Bizarre cartoon featuring a padlock as a person’s head or an imaginary creature’s head
An illustration about unlocking creativity
A bizarre or surrealist image showing a person or imaginary creature with a head in the form of a padlock.
The person is holding a key and is saying “Unlock your imagination!”.
The illustration is about freeing the imagination or liberating the mind to be creative. It is an image to convey the link between creativity and thought processes
The cartoon has uses as an illustration in art education or in areas of philosophy or psychology.
For a less bizarre, more child-friendly version of the same concept click here
Rachel Whiteread cartoon
Rachel Whiteread’s art often consists of concrete casts of the interior spaces of rooms.
Her recent work consists of casts of the inside of garden sheds.
This idea imagines one of her works in which the walls of the shed have been laid on the floor to give the effect of the shed having collapsed, leaving the concrete ‘shadow’ of the space inside the shed.
To make the idea humorous I added a glove to the installation, to give the impression of a person trapped under the collapsed shed
A cartoon about contemporary art, the YBAs (Young British Artists – even though Rachel Whiteread was never a member of the group)
Roy Lichtenstein parody cartoon – of a Lichtenstein parody
A cartoon parody of Roy Lichtenstein’s style
Lichtenstein famously copied cartoon images to create his art.
Cartoonists have parodied his work ever since. Quite right too.
In this cartoon the Lichtenstein artwork refers directly to Lichtenstein’s own work and to parodies of his work, so it’s a parody of his parodies.
Roy Lichtenstein was famous for copying images from comic magazines, and defining the resulting paintings as art.
A cartoon about modern art, contemporary art, artistic plagiarism, comic art, artistic appropriation
Marcel Duchamp cartoon – fountain – pissoir in the sky
A Dada cartoon from my modern art cartoons
Cartoon showing a giant pissoir floating in the sky.
The image is a reference to Marcel Duchamp’s readymade artwork, Fountain.
The concept behind the image is that Duchamp’s Fountain hovers above the world of modern art and contemporary art like a giant presence in the sky.
The image is also a reference to the paintings of Rene Magritte, who painted objects in the sky
Roy Lichtenstein cartoon
“But is it art?” cartoon
A cartoon showing Roy Lichtenstein’s Whaam! painting, with a gallery goer thinking “But is it art?”. The visitor to the art gallery is a Lichtenstein style woman
Roy Lichtenstein was famous for copying images from comic magazines, and defining the resulting paintings as art. Part of the joke in this cartoon is that the cartoon is in the form of a cartoon strip – so it has a Lichtenstein copy of a cartoon strip copied into a cartoon strip about Lichtenstein copying cartoon strips.
Karl Andre cartoon – the Tate bricks
A cartoon from my selection of modern art cartoons
A cartoon about Karl Andre’s artwork Equivalent VIII at the Tate Gallery.
This cartoon was drawn in January 2013, inspired by the Karl Andre exhibition Mass & Matter at the Turner Contemporary art gallery in Margate. The cartoon refers to the controversy over Andre’s work in the 1970s.
Karl Andre is a minimalist sculpture, whose work often consists of repeated units such as bricks, tiles or blocks of wood.
Karl Andre’s artwork Equivalent VIII, often known as the Tate bricks, caused quite a lot of controversy in the mid 1970s when it was displayed at the Tate Gallery (in the building that is now Tate Britain).
A cartoon about contemporary art, art galleries, iconoclastic art, iconoclasm, iconoclasts
Contemporary art cartoon – based on the curate’s egg
The term “the curate’s egg” comes from the cartoon titled “True Humility” by George du Maurier, first published in Punch, 1895.
The term “curate’ egg” is applied to something that is not very good but that you deliberately find something to be positive about.
It is sometimes used to describe something that is generally good in parts but bad in others.
My cartoon treats contemporary or modern art as a curate’s egg – good and bad in parts.
Part of the joke is that the artwork in the cartoon is a modernist sculpture that looks like an egg.
The title of the sculpture is “The Curator’s Egg” (the curator being the person who organises an art exhibition), a pun on the word curate.
Copyright infringement cartoon. If you think that this cartoon is arguing in favour of ignoring copyright – you’re wrong! Without copyright to protect our work, people such as myself would go out of business, and no-one would be able to afford to spend time creating anything anymore.
Internet piracy cartoon
Cartoon: Roy Lichtenstein parody of Whaam!
Cartoon/illustration: Pop artist Roy Lichtenstein parody.
A cartoon on the subject of copyright infringement or copyright violation.
As an illustration of copyright violation I’ve drawn a cartoon illustrating the way that pop artist Roy Lichtenstein copied or plagiarised images from cheap comic books.
In the case of Lichtenstein’s Whaam! and similar pop art works, does such work count as plagiarism, copyright infringement and copyright violation?
Was Roy Lichtenstein just a copyist at this stage in his artistic career?
The creators of the original comic book art from which Lichtenstein borrowed get no credit or mention as creators of the work. They are anonymous, while Roy Lichtenstein gets all of the credit (and money!). The comic book original of this image was drawn by Irv Novick
The illustration is based on Roy Lichtenstein’s Whaam! but isn’t an exact copy of it, although it’s close enough to the Lichtenstein version to make the point about plagiarism. The plane that in being hit in the Lichtenstein painting has been replaced by a copyright symbol which is being destroyed.
The pilot of the plane (Lichtenstein) is saying “That’s what I think of copyright!”
Another artist who deserves to be named and shamed on the subject of copyright violation is Richard Prince, an American artist who, amongst other things, has made almost exact copies of pocket cartoons (such as those found on this site) and sold them for hundreds of thousands of pounds, as ‘art’. I wouldn’t mind if he paid the original cartoonist a percentage. Why doesn’t he do that?
Edvard Munch, the Scream, cartoon parody
Munch’s Scream with a screaming shoe as a head
This isn’t just a cartoon about Munch’s Scream, it’s a cartoon about apophenia: seeing faces where they don’t exist
The shoe is a totally unmodified photo of one of my shoes.
Contemporary art cartoon
Contemporary art is sometimes not as profound as it thinks it is
Cartoon about contemporary art and its pretensions
Conceptual art makes you think
You may be asking “Why are the people such different sizes?” The answer is, I don’t know.
A cartoon about modern art, contemporary art, conceptual art, text-based art, text pieces, art galleries, gallery, meaning of art, is it art?, pretentious art, pretence, art world
Contemporary art cartoon – Michael Craig-Martin’ Oak Tree
Craig-Martin’s Oak Tree was in fact a glass of water on a shelf.
He now produces a lot of text based paintings that are based on typography and words.
This cartoon incorporates both.
The point is that if you get the joke in the cartoon you might just be accused of knowing more about the art world than is strictly healthy, and you really ought to go outside for a walk in the woods where you’ll come across some real oak trees. Part of the joke is that, because I created the cartoon I’m obviously one of those people myself.
Michael Craig-Martin is known for teaching and encouraging several of the Young British Artists (YBAs) when he taught at Goldsmiths College. He is sometimes known as ‘the godfather of Brit-Art’.
This cartoon is related to conceptual art, modern art, contemporary art, art galleries, art gallery
Cartoon about Anish Kapoor’s ArcelorMittal Orbit as a fairground attraction
The ArcelorMittal Orbit was designed by Anish Kapoor and Cecil Balmond as a legacy sculpture in the 2012 Olympic Park in Stratford, London.
This cartoon was drawn in 2012 when the sculpture was first built. An actual ‘fairground’ slide was added in 2016 (by Carsten Höller, previously best known in Britain for installing slides in the Tate Modern turbine hall).
The ArcelorMittal Orbit is often compared with a collision between the Eiffel Tower, a big dipper and a helter skelter, which is the subject of this cartoon.
I’m not sure why I’ve never heard it compared with Tatlin’s Tower.
I’m also surprised that I’ve never heard it described as the wreckage that’s the result of megalomaniacal artistic hubris over-reaching itself.
The main reason that the Orbit resembles a fairground attraction is the appearance of the mesh that encases the stairs, which spiral round the structure just like the slide on a helter skelter. This mesh is, I think, a compromise in the design, due to the restrictions imposed by health and safety regulations. Early versions of the design lacked this feature.
I’ve often thought that Anish Kapoor’s work had something of the fairground or amusement arcade about it – especially his distorting mirrors which resemble the mirrors found in a hall of mirrors.
Even his subtly curved and pigmented sculptures, which I like very much, seem to be the work of a master illusionist, and often prompts the question “Is this work a tour de force of special effects, or is it art?” followed by “Does it matter?”
In the cartoon the Olympic stadium is hosting the Final of the 100 metres dodgem race.
Cartoon of a blank artist’s canvas being defined as art
This cartoon was drawn six years ago, in 2006. I’m posting it now because it’s relevant to the current (2012) exhibition at one of London’s galleries of contemporary art, the Hayward Gallery, Invisible. The exhibition is about invisible art and consists to a large part of blank canvases.
The cartoon is about the pretentiousness and arrogance of some contemporary art and (especially) conceptual art, and about the way that the contemporary art establishment is capable of elevating even the most banal concepts to a level of deluded meaningfulness.
With such art the expression the emperor’s new clothes comes readily to mind.
Cartoon showing an artist in front of a blank canvas. He can’t think of anything meaningful to paint, so an acquaintance suggests that he just leaves the canvas blank and gives the resulting ‘work’ a pretentious title.
I’m quite a fan of quite a lot of contemporary art, conceptual art and modern art by the way. In fact, one artwork that is about nothing, and that isn’t in this exhibition, and that I like very much, is Antony Gormley’s cloud chamber (called Blind Light) which was exhibited at the same gallery, the Hayward Gallery, a few years ago. This is despite the fact that I’m not a huge fan of Gormley in general. I’d smelt down his Angel of the North.
Op art cartoon.
Bridget Riley cartoon
Cartoon about Bridget Riley and Op Art
Cartoon showing an art gallery displaying a work of op art by Bridget Riley.
The work is a checker board effect that seems to curve into the background in places, giving a disorientating effect.
The humour in the cartoon lies in the fat that the observers of the artwork are chess pieces who are standing on a floor that’s in the form of a chess board. To the chess pieces the checkerboard effect in the artwork is not simply an optical effect, it is the nature of the very ground beneath them – so the effect of the checkerboard folding backwards is a profoundly disturbing vision.
Bridget Riley is best known for her art composed of black and white stripes, curves and other forms that create jarring, vertigo inducing, dizzy-making optical effects that it’s hard to focus on. If you stand in front of a Bridget Riley painting the image sometimes seems to lose all solidity and becomes a shimmering non-corporeal apparition floating in space (because your eyes can’t fix it to focus on, due to the competing close-packed contrasting lines).
The name ‘Op Art’ refers to optical art and also to Pop Art. Both art styles were in fashion in the 1960s.
Modern art cartoon. A modern artist creating a colour field painting
A cartoon about the selfishness of artists
Cartoon about the conflict between being an artist and doing domestic chores
Cartoon showing an artist at work in his studio while his wife or partner complains that he should do more work around the house.
The caption of the cartoon is:
“Maybe when you’ve finished that ‘Color field painting number 186’ of yours you could get round to decorating the kitchen.”
The joke is that the artist is painting a huge surface with paint (of a single colour, as in colour field painting) but he can’t get round to painting the kitchen.
A cartoon about the obsessiveness of artists, artists neglecting household tasks and domestic chores, the self-centredness of artists.
It’s also a cartoon about gender difference, male obsession, male ambition, gender roles.
Colour field paintings as depicted in the cartoon were developed by, amongst others, the American Expressionist artists such as Rothko and Barnett Newman.
More of my modern art cartoons
Cartoon about children’s art and children’s artistic development
Cartoon showing small children in a nursery class practicing drawing and painting (or colouring-in).
The teacher is helping the children to learn how to draw and paint.
The teacher is saying to a child:
“That’s a lovely drawing, Sophie. Now let’s do another one with Mummy’s head like a great big balloon.”
The cartoon is about child development and children’s artistic development. It is also about adults’ expectations of what children should achieve and about educational methods and standards.
The child in the cartoon is obviously very talented, drawing a very sophisticated likeness of a person (her mother), however the teacher is being very prescriptive in her teaching methods and is encouraging the child to conform to the lower expectations of the standard that children of her age normally attain – in other words drawing a stick person with a big round head.
Modern art cartoon
Cartoon about the difficulty of judging modern art.
Is this artwork good or bad?
Cartoon about the difficulty in accessing whether art is good or bad.
The cartoon is partly an illustration of the role that art critics and art curators have in judging the merit of artworks and selecting them as worthy of display in exhibitions.
The argument goes that to the uninformed eye some artwork is of dubious merit when in fact it may be very significant in the history of art or in the development of art movements. Or it may just be art that is ‘difficult’ and ‘challenging’.
Cartoon showing a person in an art gallery or museum looking at a piece of modern artwork that shows (to him) little artistic merit. He may well be thinking “A child could do that!” or “I could have done that!”.
Realising that there may be more to the sculpture than meets the eye the man is checking what is written about the artwork in the official guide to the art exhibition.
This cartoon is about art interpretation, art appreciation, art criticism, contemporary art, readymade art, dada, art made from rubbish or everyday objects.
Cartoon about the problem of seeing real objects in pure abstract paintings
Cartoon about abstract art & the problem of seeing shapes resembling real objects in it.
Cartoon showing people in an art gallery looking at a work of abstract art.
Even though the artist intended the painting to be purely abstract the audience can’t seem to help seeing objects in it.
This is a major problem with pure abstract art – the fact that no matter how much the artist tries it’s almost impossible to create shapes that don’t suggest objects or forms in the real world.
The reason for this is linked to evolutionary psychology – because of a perfectly natural and sensible aspect of human psychology. It is the evolutionary result of the need to recognise real objects. Our sense of vision has evolved to interpret all shapes and forms as potentially real things, because in the everyday world that’s all there is.
Some things are more important to notice in the real world than others. Human faces are one. That’s why we see faces everywhere, in abstract paintings, in Rorschach tests (inkblot tests), in clouds, in wallpaper. These sightings of faces are what are known as false positives. The reason we see them is that it’s better for the brain to be over-sensitive and to mistakenly see a face where there isn’t one than to not see a face where there is one (it may be an enemy lurching in the undergrowth).
A birdwatching cartoon from my selection of art cartoons.
Showing birdwatchers spotting birds in landscape paintings in an art gallery
Birdwatching cartoon. Chris Madden cartoon.
Birdwatchers spotting birds in landscape paintings in an art gallery
A cartoon showing people in an art gallery looking for birds in landscape paintings. The people are birdwatchers kitted out in birdwatching gear, complete with binoculars.
A cartoon about animals and birds in art, twitchers, bird spotters, nature in art.