Abstract art cartoon

Kandinsky abstract art cartoon

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).

Ref: a641

Rene Magritte caricature

Caricature of Rene Magritte

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

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Naum Gabo cartoon

naum gabo cartoon

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

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Illustration: unlock your creativity: unlock your mind

Padlock as head - unlocking it releases the imagination

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

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Rachel Whiteread cartoon

rachel whiteread cartoon - cast of interior of a shed

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)

Cartoon reference number: a600

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Lichtenstein cartoon parody – of a Lichtenstein parody

lichtenstein parody cartoon

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
Cartoon reference number: a520
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Marcel Duchamp cartoon – fountain. Modern art cartoons

Duchamp fountain or pissoir in the sky

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
Cartoon reference number: a519
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Roy Lichtenstein cartoon. Is it art?

Lichtenstein cartoon - Is it art?

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.
Cartoon reference number: a510
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Karl Andre cartoon – the ‘Tate bricks’. Modern art cartoon

karl andre bricks cartoon

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
Cartoon reference number: a505

Contemporary art cartoon. Curator’s egg – based on the curate’s egg cartoon

contemporary art cartoon - curates egg cartoon

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.

Cartoon reference number: a376

Roy Lichtenstein cartoon parody of Whaam! Copyright infringement cartoon

lichtenstein whaam copyright cartoon

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!
Whaam! parody

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?

Cartoon reference number: a313
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Munch – The Scream – parody. Apophenia cartoon

Munch scream - shoe montage

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.

Cartoon reference number: a304

Contemporary art cartoon

contemporary art not as profound as it thinks - cartoon

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.

Cartoon reference number: a303

Contemporary art cartoon – Michael Craig-Martin Oak Tree

michael craig-martin oak tree cartoon

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 reference number: a302

Anish Kapoor Orbit cartoon – as a fairground attraction

anish kapoor orbit olympics dodgems - cartoon

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 reference number: a289
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Contemporary art cartoon – blank canvases as art. Emperor’s new clothes?

Blank canvas painting cartoon

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.

Cartoon reference number: a283

Bridget Riley cartoon – op art painting creating vertigo in observers – who are chess pieces

Bridget Riley chess cartoon

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.
Cartoon reference number: a159
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Modern art cartoon – a painter painting a work of art instead of painting the kitchen

Art cartoon - painter painting artwork instead of kitchen

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 reference number: a157
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Cartoon about children’s art and child development

Children's art cartoon - talented child drawing mummy

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.
Cartoon reference number: a155
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Art appreciation cartoon – check official view of artwork before forming an opinion

Modern art cartoons - Art appreciation cartoon

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.

There’s a later version of this cartoon here.

Cartoon reference number: a154
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Abstract art cartoon – the curse on abstract painting – seeing objects in it that aren’t there

Abstract art cartoon - the curse of abstract painting - seeing objects in it that aren't there

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).
Cartoon reference number: a153
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Art cartoons – birdwatching cartoons. Looking for birds in paintings in an art gallery

Art cartoon - birdwatching in an art gallery

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.
Cartoon reference number: a151
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Contemporary art cartoon – Christo exhibition

Christo cartoon - Christo artwork unwrapped

Christo cartoon

A cartoon about the artist Christo

Christo was famous for wrapping objects up as artworks.
The objects were often huge, such as buildings or bridges (the Reichstag and the Pont Neuf).
The caption of the cartoon reads:
“I bought my husband a Christo as a birthday present once – and he unwrapped it.”
The cartoon is meant to be a joke at the expense of rich patrons of art who nevertheless know little about, or appreciate little about, art.
The cartoon shows the opening preview of an exhibition of Christo’s work.
Cartoon reference number: a150
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Modern art cartoon – Marcel Duchamp taking the pissoir

modern art cartoon - marcel duchamp taking the pissoir

Dadaism cartoon. Marcel Duchamp Fountain – is Duchamp taking the pissoir

Cartoon about artist Marcel Duchamp’s Dadaist artwork The Fountain.
The Fountain is a urinal from a gents’ toilet, or in French a pissoir.
The cartoon shows Duchamp removing a pissoir from a toilet in order to turn it into an artwork simply by declaring that it is a work art.
The joke in the cartoon is – is Duchamp taking the piss? Is he making a joke at the expense of the artist establishment?

Marcel Duchamp is best known through his use of “ready mades” A ready made is a mundane everyday object that is elevated to the status of art by virtue of being removed from its quotidian environment and placed in an art gallery.
Duchamp was a member of the Dadaist art movement. Dada was an offshoot of surrealism. Surrealist art ad Dada both flourished in the mid twentieth century.
Cartoon reference number: a139
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Art Cartoons – express personality through painting

Art cartoons - explore your dark side in painting

Art cartoon: expression of personality through art

Cartoon about using art to explore and analyse personality.
The person in the cartoon is creating a painting as a way to explore an aspect of her personality.
She is trying to create an image from the darker side of her personality.
The joke in the cartoon is that she has painted a cuddly kitten or cat.
She seems to be incapable of thinking bad thoughts – is this because she’s a very conventional and conservative person who has a limited imagination (or an imagination that’s never been allowed to express itself and develop), or maybe she’s in denial about the darker side of her personality.

Cartoon about art therapy, artistic expression, Sunday painters, art evening classes, adult education, artistic temperament.
Cartoon reference number: a138

Cartoon – describing visual art in words can obscure the art’s meaning and impact

cartoon - descriptive words in speech balloon obscuring visual artwork

Art criticism and art appreciation cartoon. A cartoon about the limitations and drawbacks of artistic analysis.

Art cartoon about drawbacks of art criticism.
The cartoon is illustrating the way that verbal analysis of nonverbal media can obscure the meaning of the work due to the limitations of verbal analysis. Verbalisation is inadequate at expressing some nonverbal sensations, reactions, emotions etc that are conveyed in the visual (and other nonverbal) arts.

Cartoon showing two people in an art gallery looking at a painting. One is talking about art and the speech balloon containing the words that he is saying is obscuring the art, getting between the art and the viewer. He is saying “Sometimes describing art in words only serves to obscure the work.”
Cartoon reference number: a136
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Art education cartoon. What makes something a work of art?

cartoon - what is art and what makes art valid?

Art education cartoon. A cartoon about the pretensions of the contemporary art and the art establishment (as expressed by a lecturer in an art college).

Cartoon about posturing and pretension in the contemporary art establishment.
What is art?

Cartoon showing a lecturer in an art college teaching a student.
The caption of the cartoon reads:
“No, no, Deborah… to be artistically valid you must
work from a position of deep understanding of art’s role
in questioning the aesthetic and intellectual norms of the
prevailing cultural zeitgeist – not just go off with some
crazy idea of your own!”
Cartoon depicting artistic justification and rationalisation, artistic validation and criticism, artistic elitism, art appreciation, art history, art movements.
Cartoon reference number: a135
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Art criticism cartoon. “Don’t judge art unless you know who the artist is”

don't judge art unless you know who the artist is - cartoon

Art cartoon. Don’t judge art until you know who it’s by

Art appreciation cartoon. Should you know who created a work of art before you judge it?

Cartoon showing a man in an art gallery looking at a painting.
He’s reading the label to see who the painting was painted by before deciding what to think about it.
A cartoon illustrating points about art appreciation, art history, what is a masterpiece, how to judge art, artistic expression, modern art, art education.
Cartoon reference number: a133
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Damien Hirst shark cartoon – it’s a very big fish for such a shallow idea

Damien Hirst shark cartoon - it's a very big fish for such a shallow idea

Contemporary art cartoon. Cartoon about Damien Hirst’s shark in formaldehyde, titled “The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living”

Cartoon about Damien Hirst’s shark in formaldehyde.

Damien Hirst has a major retrospective exhibition at Tate Madern, starting in April 2012
His shark was exhibited at the Sensations exhibition at the Royal Academy of Art, London.
Damien Hirst was a member of the YBAs or Young British Artists.
The cartoon is a dig at the pretension and posturing of some contemporary art (Just look at the preposterous title of Hirst’s piece – “The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living”. Maybe it’s meant to be a joke title).
The cartoon is also a criticism of the undue respect in which some contemporary art is held – hence the caption “It’s a very big fish for such a shallow idea.”
Cartoon reference number: a141

Damien Hirst exhibition cartoon – vegan art gallery visitor

Damien Hirst exhibition cartoon - vegan visitor

Damien Hirst cartoon. Can a vegan or vegetarian visit a Damien Hirst exhibition?

Cartoon originally created for the Damien Hirst exhibition at Tate Modern, London, 2012.

The caption of this cartoon reads:
“I’m not going in there – I’m a vegan.”
The joke in this cartoon is based on the fact that Damien Hirst’s work includes a lot of (real) dead animals, usually placed in glass cases (or vitrines) and often preserved in formaldehyde.
Hirst’s most famous work is a shark in formaldehyde. He has also used sheep and cows, some of them cut in half or into sections.
The cartoon poses the question – if a vegan or vegetarian visited a Damien First exhibition would it be against their moral or ethical principals?

Hirst was a member of the YBAs or Young British Artists. Perhaps now he’s a member of the MABAs, or Middle Aged British Artists.
A cartoon about art, morals and ethics.
Created: 2012

Cartoon reference number: a147
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Damien Hirst shark cartoon – bigger fish eating smaller fish as metaphor

Damien Hirst shark cartoon - bigger fish eating smaller fish as metaphor

Cartoon about contemporary art, featuring a work based on Damien Hirst’s shark in formaldehyde.

This cartoon is based on Hirst’s shark in formaldehyde.
It shows a vitrine containing three fish in a row, with each of the larger fish about to devour the smaller fish.

The cartoon’s caption reads:
“Yes, maybe it is a metaphor – for the way that art feeds on itself within a self-referential and closed cultural ecosystem.”
The cartoon is a comment on the narrowness and self justification of the contemporary art world.
Damien Hirst’s shark in formaldehyde was exhibited at the Sensations exhibition at the Royal Academy of Art, London and in a retrospective at Tate Modern in 2012.
Hirst was a member of the YBAs or Young British Artists. Perhaps now he’s a member of the MABAs, or Middle Aged British Artists.
Cartoon reference number: a146
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Damien Hirst cartoon – Hirst becomes a big fish in British contemporary art by using a shark

Damien Hirst cartoon - British contemporary art

Damien Hirst cartoon.
Damien Hirst’s shark in formaldehyde, titled “The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living”

A cartoon commenting on Damien Hirst as a ‘big fish’ in the contemporary art world

The cartoon uses Damien Hirst’s iconic shark in a tank to criticise aspects of the contemporary art world.
The caption of the cartoon is “I see it as Damien Hirst’s way of saying that he’s a very big fish in the very small fishtank that is the contemporary art world. It’s also saying that contemporary art is trapped in suspended animation in the confined space of its own limited self-definition and that it’s doomed to go nowhere.”
His shark was exhibited at the Sensations exhibition at the Royal Academy of Art, London.
Damien Hirst was a member of the Young British Artists or YBAs.
Cartoon reference number: a143
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Cartoon. Damien Hirst – shark in formaldehyde

Damien Hirst shark cartoon - big fish for shallow idea

Damien Hirst cartoon. Cartoon critique of Damien Hirst’s shark in formaldehyde, titled “The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living”

Damien Hirst cartoon. Cartoon about Damien Hirst’s shark in formaldehyde.

Damien Hirst has a major retrospective exhibition at Tate Madern, starting in April 2012
Damien Hirst was a member of the YBAs or Young British Artists.
The cartoon is a criticism of the pretentiousness of some contemporary art (Just look at the preposterous title of Hirst’s piece – “The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living”. Maybe it’s meant to be funny) and of the undue respect in which some of it is held. Hence the caption “It’s a very big fish for such a shallow idea.”
Cartoon reference number: a141
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Pablo Picasso cartoon. Picasso painting a cubist portrait

picasso-cubist-painting-makes-sitter-famous

Picasso Cartoon. Picasso painting a cubist portrait.

Picasso Cartoon. Picasso speaking to the sitter for a cubist portrait.
He is telling her that when he has painter her she will become so famous that she won’t be able to walk down the street without being recognised.

The joke in the cartoon is that the person represented in the cubist painting is unrecognisable.
A cartoon about modern art, Pablo Picasso, cubism, celebrity, fame, recognition.
Cartoon reference number: a114
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Michelangelo’s David cartoon. If that’s his David I’d love to see his Goliath.

michelangelo cartoon - david and goliath

Michelangelo cartoon. Statue of David.

Michelangelo’s David cartoon. What would his Goliath have looked like?

A cartoon showing a woman looking at Michelangelo’s statue of David. She’s thinking “If that’s his David I’d love to see his Goliath!”
Michelangelo’s full name is Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni.

A later version of this cartoon can be seen here.

Cartoon reference number: a076
This cartoon features in my book of cartoons about art.
See the book here.
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Cartoon. Bucolic genre paintings – old and modern compared

Cartoon - contemporary bucolic genre art

Art cartoon: an old painting of the countryside and a modern painting of the countryside. The old painting shows a bustling farm scene. The new painting shows a huge boring field.

Bucolic genre painting cartoon, showing an old view of industrious farm workers and a modern painting featuring a vast empty field containing nothing but a combine harvester.

A cartoon illustrating the way that farm work and the countryside have changed over the years.
The cartoon also questions whether the assumption that because the old rural scene is more picturesque than the more inhuman modern scene it was necessarily better. The viewer in the cartoon seems to think it was, but is he correct?
Cartoon reference number: a074
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Lichtenstein parody cartoon – turning comic book images into art

lichtenstein parody - comic images into art

Cartoon: Roy Lichtenstein parody – turning comic book images into art.

Cartoon/illustration: Roy Lichtenstein parody – turning comic book images into art.

A cartoon illustrating the way that pop artist Roy Lichtenstein copied or plagiarised images from cheap comic books – and through the act of transferring them to canvas transformed them, in the eyes of the art world, into fine art.
Does such work count as plagiarism, copyright infringement and copyright violation?
The creators of the original comic book art get no credit or mention as creators of the work.
They are anonymous, while Roy Lichtenstein gets all of the credit (and money!).
A cartoon that questions what is art,
Ref a065b
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David Hockney cartoon. Hockney trees through the seasons paintings (and smoking cigarettes)

David Hockney serial landscapes through the seasons

A cartoon about David Hockney and his landscape paintings of the East Yorkshire wolds.

Cartoon. Since his move to Bridlington artist David Hockney has been painting in the East Yorkshire wolds, studying and capturing the changing light and colour through the seasons.
His paintings are to be displayed in a major exhibition of his work, The Bigger Picture, at the Royal Academy of Arts, London, between January and April 2012.
The exhibition includes Hockney’s recent experiments in digital painting on an iPad.
The cartoon shows a series of David Hockney paintings of the same group of trees at different times of the year, spring, summer, autumn, winter, with the differing light and the different appearance of the trees. The final painting shows the trees burnt down due to a fire caused by a discarded cigarette end.
David Hockney is famous for his commitment to the freedom to smoke cigarettes.
The joke is that one day his enthusiastic smoking habit may have a down side (although Hockney would argue that that’s his business, not yours).

A cartoon about David Hockney, cigarettes, smoking bans, freedom to smoke, fag ends, cigarette butts.
Ref hoc003
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