Humor

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Humor has long aided artists as a tool of social commentary, an iconic example being William Hogarth's “Marriage à la mode” paintings which jabbed at marriage arrangements in 18th-century English society. Humor was also central to the radical break with convention made by Marcel Duchamp when he presented his “readymades” as art along with Dada's nonsensical objects and performances. Subsequently, humor has played a key role in the performance and video works of artists such as Bruce Nauman and Eleanor Antin, the large-scale Pop Art sculptures of Claes Oldenburg, the appropriations of John Baldessari, and the text works of Jenny Holzer. A darker, more grotesque humor and social critique appears in the paintings of Peter Saul and the sculptural works of Mike Kelley and Paul McCarthy.

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