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Infinite Jest: Caricature from Leonardo to Levine

Infinite Jest: Caricature from Leonardo to Levine

McPhee, Constance C., and Nadine M. Orenstein
224 pages
New York Book Show Awards, Special Trade, Fine Art Under $75, Merit Award (2011)
New York Book Festival Award in Photography/Art, Winner (2011)
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From Leonardo's drawings of grotesque heads to contemporary prints lampooning American politicians, The Metropolitan Museum of Art has a vast but largely known collection of caricatures and other satirical works. This handsome book offers 165 examples, dating from about 1500 to the present, that reflect the age-old tradition of using exaggeration and humor to convey personal, social, or political meaning. The selection of images is notably broad, ranging from the elevated to the rudely humorous: renowned writers and decidedly unhygienic cooks; elegantly dressed noblemen and victims of outrageous fashion fads; Napoleon as a tidy Lilliputian and Boss Tweed as a bloated Roman Emperor.

Stressing the continuity of certain artistic approaches,Infinite Jesttraces the development of the genre across centuries and cultures. The essential visual components of caricature are discussed and illustrated, as are recurring motifs, including exaggerated faces and bodies, people depicted as animals or objects, and processions of bizarre figures. One section is devoted to social satire (eating and drinking, gambling, fashion, several of the Seven Deadly Sins), another to various aspects of political life (British, French, Mexican, and American). Artists as diverse as Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Gian Lorenzo Bernini, William Hogarth, Francisco de Goya, Thomas Rowlandson, Eugène Delacroix, Honoré Daumier, and Al Hirschfeld contribute their distinctive talents to this fascinating, informative, and very amusing volume.

Robe à la Circassienne Garnie à la Chartres: la Coëffure de meme, Avec le Tableau des Evenements, Anonymous, French, 18th century  French, Hand-colored etching
Anonymous, French, 18th century
Rules for Drawing Caricaturas with an Essay on Comic Painting, Francis Grose  British, Illustrations: etching
Francis Grose
Samuel Hooper
Essais d'autographie/ Essai de physiognomie, Rodolphe Töpffer  Swiss, Lithograph
Rodolphe Töpffer
The Macaroni Print Shop, Edward Topham  British, Etching
Multiple artists/makers
July 14, 1772
Honi. Soi. Qui. Mal. Y. Pense: The Caricature Shop of G. Humphrey, 27 St. James's Street, London, Theodore Lane  British, Hand-colored etching
Theodore Lane
George Humphrey
August 12, 1821
The Fat Kitchen, Pieter Bruegel the Elder  Netherlandish, Engraving; first state
Multiple artists/makers
Les Musards de la Rue du Coq (Dawdlers of the Rue du Coq), Pierre Nolasque Bergeret  French, Hand-colored pen lithograph
Multiple artists/makers
The Publisher Aubert (You must admit the government has a comic appearance), Charles-Joseph Traviès  French, Lithograph
Multiple artists/makers
The Past. The Present. The Future (Le passé. Le présent. L'avenir), from La Caricature, plate 349, Honoré Daumier  French, Lithograph
Multiple artists/makers
January 9, 1834
Caricature of a Man Pointing, Gian Lorenzo Bernini  Italian, Pen and brown ink
Gian Lorenzo Bernini
Head of a Man in Profile Facing to the Left, Leonardo da Vinci  Italian, Pen and brown ink, over soft black chalk
Leonardo da Vinci
A Grotesque Couple: Old Woman with an Elaborate Headdress and 
Old Man with Large Ears and Lacking a Chin, Giovanni Francesco Melzi  Italian, Pen and brown ink
Giovanni Francesco Melzi
Leonardo da Vinci
Five grotesque heads, including an elderly man with an oak leaf wreath, Wenceslaus Hollar  Bohemian, Etching; only state
Multiple artists/makers
Two Grotesque Heads, Hans Liefrinck  Netherlandish, Engraving
Hans Liefrinck
Leonardo da Vinci
Two Grotesque Heads, Anonymous, Netherlandish, 17th century  Netherlandish, Etching; only state
Multiple artists/makers
Morris Dancers, Daniel Hopfer  German, Etching; fourth state of four
Daniel Hopfer
Anonymous, Italian, 15th to 16th century
late 15th–early 16th century
Four Caricatured Heads, Pier Francesco Mola  Italian, Pen and brown ink
Pier Francesco Mola
Caricature of a Gentleman and Other Studies, Giovanni Domenico Tiepolo  Italian, Pen and dark brown ink, brush and brown wash, over  black chalk
Giovanni Domenico Tiepolo
Caricature of the Artist's Younger Brother Marie-Alexandre-François, François André Vincent  French, Pen and brown ink, brush and brown wash
François André Vincent
All Who See Me Jeer at Me (Omnes Videntes me Deriserunt me), Joseph François Foulquier  French, Etching
Joseph François Foulquier
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McPhee, Constance C., and Nadine M. Orenstein. 2011. Infinite Jest: Caricature and Satire from Leonardo to Levine [Exhibition, New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, September 13, 2011-through March 4, 2012. New York New Haven [Conn.]: Metropolitan Museum of Art Distributed by Yale University Press.