Caricatures and Parody
“The caricaturist plays with the likeness of his victim, and distorts it to express just what he feels about his fellow man.” –E.H. Gombrich
Caricatures exaggerate features of individuals for the purpose of humor, mockery or criticism. Related to caricature, parody is a narrative or literary device—as opposed to a type of visual depiction—that imitates an original work or set of conventions while distorting it to comic, satirical or critical effect. In Western art, parody can be traced back to ancient Greek drama, while caricature is generally considered to have emerged out of 16th-century carnivalesque culture and grotesque disfigurations of the human figure. Over the course of the late-18th and 19th centuries in Europe and the United States, caricatures circulated in the press and pamphlets often delivered pointed political or social commentary. William Hogarth, considered the father of English caricature, made light of English social mores in his paintings and prints of the late 1700s, and by the 1830s in France a publication devoted entirely to the form, La Caricature, provided a forum for Honoré Daumier’s political drawings. These modes—in particular parody—have been of interest to late-20th-century artists in part because of their prevalence in culture at large, as the popularity of the mockumentary, satirical sketch comedy, lampoons, and spoofs attests.