Lecture: 'The Art of the Joke'

“Art is the only serious thing in the world. And the artist is the only person who is never serious.” Oscar Wilde

 

Artists have always used jokes to make serious statements – about themselves, about each other, about the world, and about the nature of art. This lecture looks at artists’ jokes – from the margins of medieval manuscripts to Marcel Duchamp’s moustache on the Mona Lisa, from trompe l’oeil to Dutch tavern scenes with coded warnings against the sins of the flesh, from pun to parody, from Michelangelo’s self-portrait in skin on the Sistine ceiling to Magritte’s pipe, from Arcimboldo to Banksy…..