Thursday 22 March 2018
Artists have always used jokes to make serious statements –about themselves, about the world, about the nature of art. This lecture looks at artists’ jokes through the ages, from medieval monks doodling graffiti in the margins of manuscripts to Banksy turning supermarket walls into social satire. Caravaggio put his own face on Goliath's severed head as an apology for a racy lifestyle, Michelangelo hid a self-portrait on the hide of St Bartholomew on the Sistine ceiling to express the agony of creation. When Van Gogh attacked formal art education and Salvador Dali got at Picasso, they did it in paint. Trompe l'oeil, parody, visual puns, the moustache on the Mona Lisa - all in fun, all deadly serious: artists' jokes tell you a lot once you know ...
Susie is a writer, editor and lecturer, specialising in 20th century culture and the arts. She has published eight books on subjects including official war art, opera and the composer Elisabeth Lutyens. Her most recent title is the biography of Sir Nikolaus Pevsner, published in August 2011. She has lectured to a range of audiences from the Imperial War Museum and British Museum to the Twentieth Century Society and the RSA, most recently at the Cheltenham and Bridport Literary Festivals and the Victorian Society