Hogarth’s London - 22 October 2014 – 18 January 2015
"Other pictures we look at – his prints we read" - Charles Lamb, on the genius of Hogarth.
William Hogarth (1697-1764), one of the great chroniclers of London, captured the highs and especially the lows of life in London in his paintings and engravings. His acute observations of the human condition were played out on the streets where he was born, lived, worked and died, and have placed an indelible stamp on the way we imagine Georgian London. Although he rose to become Serjeant Painter to the King, he was never fully accepted by the London art establishment.
This exhibition of fifty of the artist’s best-known London satirical prints marks the 250th anniversary of his death. Hogarth’s cautionary tales of eighteenth-century London's "modern moral subjects" as he called them, include A Harlot’s Progress, A Rake’s Progress, The Four Times of Day, Industry and Idleness and, of course, Gin Lane and Beer Street. His dynamic narratives tell stories of contemporary London types who would have been immediately recognisable to audiences of the time.
Hogarth's topographical view of London was quite narrow - Smithfield, Covent Garden, St. Martin’s Lane, and Leicester Fields (now Leicester Square) - but within that small compass teemed a rich and intense variety of life and character. Certain places he creatively re-imagined, other settings have long been wiped from the map, but enough remains to help us navigate our way through his prints.
In the 250 years since he died, Hogarth’s commentaries on London have inspired numerous artists to look at life in London in their own time. Though neither a cartoonist nor strictly a caricaturist, his satires remain a touchstone for satirists from David Low and Ralph Steadman to Steve Bell and Martin Rowson. This exhibition invites the public to look more closely at the original pictures and discover a London which is sometimes horrifying, but always fascinating.
This exhibition is supported by the William Hogarth Trust, and is accompanied by a series talks and events.
The Cartoon Museum, 35 Little Russell Street, London WC1A 2HH is open Mon – Sat, 10.30 – 17.30; Sun, 12.00 – 17.30.
By Gustavo Duarte
Publisher: Dark Horse
I bought this one based on some sample illustrations accompanying the promotion, and was rather pleased to see it had a thoughtful introduction from Sergio Aragones. The reason Aragones was asked is that both artists produce wordless comic strips, and while Aragones is the veteran master, Gustavo Duarte is relatively new on the scene.
Duarte’s has an incredibly lovely, fluid style incorporating considered minimal brushstrokes, great comedic pacing and some oddball twists and turns to keep you fully engaged. Essentially, you don’t ever really think that you’ve read something like this before.
The book features three tales, each told with nothing more than pictures, so the characters reactions, movements and motivations all have to be captured in their wordless pantomime performance. On the couple of occasions word balloons are used Duarte manages to cleverly use pictures instead, even designing them in such a way that they become part of the scene. A beautiful touch. I don’t really want to give too much away about the individual stories as that will steal the fun, but, in a nutshell, one is about an alien abduction at a pig farm, one involves two anthropomorphic birds in an office attempting to out-run fate and the final, most ambitious, one is a Godzilla-style rampage where an elderly master of Fortean phenomena takes it upon himself to tackle the threat single-handed. Because the books don’t use words the humour is all drawn out through the exaggerated movements, expressions and situations, and the stories unfold with a grace and timing that borders on perfection.
A really lovely, and genuinely well executed, example of the medium at its finest.
And if you liked that: Then you’ll love anything by Sergio Aragones
"The King of Comic Postcards … the Picasso of the pier" (Dennis Potter).
This exhibition comprises over 100 hilarious and rumbustious cartoons by Donald McGill, the master of the saucy seaside postcard. For over six decades, his 12,000 designs provided an essential element of the British holiday, and celebrated social life at its most unbuttoned. However, the bulging bodies and revealing costumes, the innuendos and double-entendres, eventually proved too much for the censors, and in 1954, McGill and his publisher were prosecuted under the Obscene Publications Act, and thousands of their postcards had to be destroyed.
However, McGill’s images live on in the national memory as a great popular art. As a result, a museum and archive devoted to the artist and his work opened at Ryde, on the Isle of Wight, in 2010. And, though the museum has now closed, the original artworks in its possession are available for sale through Chris Beetles – a must for collectors of cartoons and illustrations. The accompanying catalogue is fully illustrated, and contains an essay by James Bissell-Thomas, founder and curator of the Donald McGill Museum, on its rise and fall.
In addition to the exhibition and catalogue, Chris Beetles is pleased to launch Bernard Crossley’s Donald McGill: Postcard Artist, the first comprehensive biography of this extraordinary subject.
Of Donald McGill, George Orwell once said: "The special value of his post cards is that they are so completely typical"
By Aymond & Van Hamme
You’ve got to feel a little sorry for Lady S, or Suzan, as we’ve come to know her. Her life’s been a huge upheaval and she’s found herself manipulated by others to their own ends, but despite it all she’s found a sense of normality and stability as her adopted father’s assistant. He’s the USA’s roving ambassador and is currently in a secretive relationship with the first female US President. It’s time for the political parties to choose their candidates for the upcoming presidential elections and normal procedure would see the incumbent be the natural choice for the party in power, although there’s a power hungry Senator who wants that nomination for himself and he’s managed to put the pieces together about some of Suzan’s past. Knowing she also works for her father who in turn is a special advisor to the President he realises he can discredit them all and take the nomination for himself.
In order for the plan to work he needs the assistance of the young State Department’s Deputy Director for Eastern Europe, someone he helped to achieve the post. Feeling beholden to the unscrupulous Senator he becomes drawn in and all of the elements are now in place to topple a President, discredit an ambassador and ruin the life of Suzan. What they don’t count on is Suzan’s resourcefulness, so although she can’t correct the mistakes of her earlier life, nor the shady adoption process that brought her to the US, she can expose the man who has set about ruining so many lives.
It’s a bit a tear-jerker, this one, so be warned for some daring unsettling of the status quo. As always, Van Hamme delivers an intelligent and exciting story that relies on your ability to think rather than just blindly follow - surely the most adaptable, diverse and competent writers in comics today.