Tuesday, 14 June 2011

LINES OF INNOCENCE AND EXPERIENCE

Have I ever mentioned on this blog that I love cartoons? Probably! And what I enjoy most about the cartoonist's art is that it is as varied in style and technique as any of those other 'grown-up' art forms! This is perfectly demonstrated in two great exhibitions, currently on show in London, celebrating the work of two cartoonists, both masters of their craft, whose work is as different from one another as chalk and cheese or sweet and sour.

Gerard Hoffnung (1925-1959) was an artist and a musician (he played that elderly uncle of the orchestra, the tuba) and celebrated music and music-makers in his cartoons that appeared in the pages of the humorous magazine Punch and other periodicals and which were later collected into a rib-tickling pocket-library beginning in 1953 with The Maestro

He also remains beloved for his zany broadcasts and speeches including his famous address to the Oxford Union with his ripely comic Bricklayer's Lament

A grand touring exhibition of Hoffnung's work is currently on show at Chris Beetles Gallery in London and it is impossible to walk around this collection of pictures without smiling, chuckling, chortling or downright laughing out loud...













In sharp contrast is the work of The Guardian's resident political cartoonist, Steve Bell, whose consistently ruthless pen has called to account the world's leaders (as well as lesser mortals) for their foibles, follies and failings. In real life, Bell is a gentle shaggy-bearded giant. Once behind the drawing-board, his ire and indignation is nothing short of combustible.

Among Bell's signature works are the strips If and Maggie's Farm, his celebrated characterisation of former British Prime Minister John Major as an inept Superman wearing his Y-Fronts over his trousers and his portrayals of both Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair with their unnerving 'mad eye'.

Many of Bell's masterpieces of lampoonery that confirm him as a modern-day Gillray, Cruikshank and Hogarth, are on show at the exhibition Bell Époque at The Cartoon Museum in London.

The 'special relationship'...


A little learning....


The London bombings...


The bloody enemy...


The New Beginning (USA)...


The New Beginning (UK)...


The ultra-conservative Pope (after Charles Addams)...


That Royal Wedding...



Hoffnung's drawings and paintings remain on show at Chris Beetles Gallery until 22 June as part of Instruments and inventions, where they hang, cheek by jowl, with the work of another genius of comic art, William Heath Robinson.

The gallery is at 8 & 10 Ryder St, St James's, London, SW1Y 6QB (Telephone: 020 7839 7551) and is open 10:00-17:30 Monday-Saturday.

You can read more about Hoffnung's life and work on The Gerard Hoffnung Website, and you will find a biographical sketch on Joel Mark's blog Miscellaneous Moments.




Steve Bell's Bell Époque remains on show at The Cartoon Museum until 24 July.

The Museum is at 35 Little Russell Street, London WC1A 2HH (Telephone: 020 7580 8155) and is open 10:30-17:30, Tuesdays-Saturdays and 12:00-17:30 on Sundays. Admission: £5.50 Adults, £4 Concessions; £3 Students with valid student ID; free to under-18s, Art Fund Members and Friends of the Cartoon Museum.

A catalogue, Bell Époque: 30 Years of Steve Bell (cover art below) price £14.99 is available at the museum or from the on-line shop.




A series of special events are being held to tie-in with the exhibition:
Friday 24 June, 15:00-17:00 – Masterclass with Steve Bell
A rare opportunity for illustration and graphic art students and aspiring cartoonists to receive direction and advice from one of the leading graphic artists today. Places strictly limited; £12
Tuesday 5 July, 19:00-20:00 – Cartoonists' Roundtable
Steve Bell is joined by Peter Brookes, Dave Brown, Nick Garland, Martn Rowson and Posy Simmonds for a fascinating discussion on the key influences that have shaped their work, not only other cartoonists, but also painters, animators, filmmakers, musicians and writers. Not to be missed. £6 (£5 concessions, Friends £4)
Wednesday 13 July 19:00-20:00 – Bell on Bell
Steve Bell talks about his early influences, his development as a cartoonist and his work over the last thirty years. £6 (£5 concessions, Friends £4)
Events at the Cartoon Museum are popular and seating is limited so it is advisable to book tickets in advance; telephone: 020 7580 8155
You can read more about Steve Bell and his work at Belltoons: The Steve Bell Cartoon Website and on his page at the Guardian website.

8 comments:

Eudora said...

Thank you Brian, this Hoffnug is a discovery for me. Superb.

Andy J. Latham said...

A great selection of stuff there. I particularly like the penny farthing harp :D

SharonM said...

Some great cartoons - I really like the ones by Hoffnug.

Geno said...

Great stuff there Brian. I have never really had any exposure (that I know of) to British comic artists. Thanks!

Alan Gilliland said...

I had a great friend at The Telegraph, a cockney character and terrific artist and painter of WW2 aircraft, who had a set of Hoffnung originals ‘given’ to him by the great man. He worked with him ages ago and he, too, is dead now, so they probably languish somewhere in Norfolk or sold.

scb said...

The Hoffnung cartoons appeal to me greatly, which likely does not surprise you. I love it when people do creative things with musical themes.

Thanks, Brian!

Brian Sibley said...

Glad you enjoyed these cartoons though I was probably unfair to set the gentle wit of Gerard Hoffnung against the savagery of Steve Bell...

Bell's art is of the moment (though that is not to say it's brutal take on contemporary affairs won't resonate for years to come, whereas Hoffnung's jokes are timeless: the artist died 52 years ago and we are still laughing!

BIGJJSTUDD said...

brilliant comics - all together they are great, thanks!