Call 911 from a Banana Phone
It's hard to work humor into aesthetics without it lessening what would otherwise be a beautiful composition -- much like the color red. Levity has to be counterbalanced by some kind of symbol of the macabre, or something slightly offensive to activate what would be dialectic into something poetic. For example the work of Jonathen Meese, William Pope L. and Brad Kahlhamer. These artists all use humor as a valid aesthetic component of their work, normally by leveraging it off of very uncomfortable subject matter.
Humor is a type of beauty which rarely one has the ability to capture. So I was pleased to discover emerging artist Ben Edmiston who really nails it down. Ben's work that is now up in the "Strange Lands" show at The Cindy Rucker Gallery, plays off of the curatorial theme of the show -- something about a 12th century king and religious oppression? I'm not sure. And I'm sorry for not reading all of the press release. But, Ben's work which is loaded with references to heaven, hell, Jesus, death etc., is supremely intelligent and funny -- even the way the work was hung in the space was kind of funny. About ten works were lined down sides of a structural column. They went low, to almost a foot of the ground. There was something jovial and benevolent added to the decrepit grin of the figure in "Wild Shirt" by my having to crouch low in front of the column and get eye to eye with him in order to see the piece.
The eight other pieces of Edmiston's in the show somehow were all equally as strong and lighthearted. The humor coupled with the multiform compositions of the work, in terms of materials, textures, use of color and symbols, lead me to believe Edmiston's got a lot of very large body of work to get out there. And so I look forward to seeing more of it in the future.
Above is Edmiston's work "Wild Shirt" paired with another one of my favorite "funny" artists, Jonathan Meese. Call 911 from a Banana Phone is the title to another work of Ben's which I suggest you go see while the show is still up.
Otherwise, if you also like the idea of humor in art, genres: Dada, Pop, Surrealism "anti-painting" and performance art seem to be the kings of comedy and the places where you will most find it.