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Art Wed Jan 12 2011

A Celebration of Satire

Thomas_Rowlandson_Miseries_of_London.jpg

Thomas Rowlandson, Miseries of London, 1807.

A delightful celebration of subversion is going up at Northwestern University's Block Museum, with a public opening reception tomorrow (Thursday) at 5pm. Two complementary exhibitions are opening: Thomas Rowlandson: Pleasures and Pursuits in Georgian England, and The Satirical Edge in Contemporary Prints and Graphics.

The former includes 71 drawings, watercolors, prints, and books by Thomas Rowlandson, a popular English satirist who applied his masterful drawing skills and keen sense of humor to colorful, detailed, and sometimes bawdy depictions of everyday life in and around London during the late 18th and early 19th centuries. These works offer an entryway into the social and political life of Georgian England. Rowlandson specialized in capturing the follies and foibles on display in his native city during a time of remarkable population growth and social change, as members of differing classes clumsily mixed and mingled for the first time. Click here for a slideshow preview. (Flash)

The complementary exhibition, The Satirical Edge in Contemporary Prints and Graphics, is drawn primarily from the Block collection, featuring works from the 1950s to present day by artists working in America who who use the power of printmaking to create outrageous scenes and narratives of warfare, greed, gluttony, and injustice.

The show begins with printmakers from the mid-20th century like William Gropper (1897-1977), who created dark lithographs with characters driven and tormented by their base desires, and Warrington Colescott (b. 1921) and Sidney Chafetz (b. 1922), famous for their pointed jabs at the pompous worlds of high art and academia. A newer generation is represented by artists like Tom Huck (b. 1971), whose burlesque art and the Mexican-born, American-based Enrique Chagoya (b. 1953), who incorporates diverse elements from pre-Columbian mythology, western religious iconography, and American popular culture to create scathing critiques on society. Other contemporary artists in the exhibition include R. Crumb (b. 1943), Sue Coe (b. 1951), and the art collective Guerrilla Girls (founded 1985). Click here for a slideshow preview. (Flash)

Both exhibitions open tomorrow, Jan. 13 with a reception at 5pm and remarks by the museum staff at 6:30. The Block Museum is located at 40 Arts Circle Dr. in Evanston.

 
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