Art Institute of Boston

Lesley College, Boston, MA



Mightier than the Sword, Political Satire, Caricature, and Cartoon on the Presidency, Presidents and Presidential Elections


"Mightier than the Sword, Political Satire, Caricature, and Cartoon on the Presidency, Presidents and Presidential Elections" opens at The Art Institute of Boston at Lesley University, 700 Beacon Street, on Monday, November 13, 2000 and continues through January 21, 2001.

The exhibition highlights the work of artists Edward Sorel of The New Yorker, Jules Feiffer of the Village Voice, Robert Grossman of The Atlantic Monthly, Seymour Chwast of Push Pin Studios in New York City, Jeff Danziger of The Los Angeles Times and Dan Wasserman of The Boston Globe.

"Those engaged in the profession of political satire and cartoon, whatever their own political views, are the prime exemplars of freedom of the press," explains curator Bonnell Robinson. In 1830, the French government fueled a revolution, in part, because they tried to suppress visual satire and caricature. Among those who survived -- to attack again -- was Honoré Daumier. Today, Feiffer, Sorel, Danziger, Chwast, Wasserman, and Grossman are among our finest masters of satire and cartoon to continue this tradition of political commentary - -as they unmask and lampoon the foibles and follies of our politicians."

Jon Swan, author and journalist, in his introduction to the exhibition brochure writes, "While satire is first and foremost a literary form, the impulse to puncture and deflate, to indict and excoriate finds expression in all the arts, particularly the pictorial. Hogarth's "The Rake's Progress," is a memorable example; Daumier's depictions elf predatory lawyers and a generally avaricious bourgeois society have lost neither their relevance nor their bite. While written satire may be gasping its last -- a washed-up shark still snapping its jaws -- the impulse that gave us a rich literature of wrath and righteous indignation lives on in the work of such masterful practitioners as Ronald Searle, David Levine, Edward Sorel and Arnold Roth. It should be noted, however, that, fewer and fewer magazines care to, or dare to, showcase satirical artwork. It might offend!"

The exhibition will include a brief survey of political satire from the late 18th century to the present, followed by 65 pen and ink drawings, watercolors, and sculptures which feature portraits of presidents, contenders, and memorable events surrounding the presidency, beginning with Richard Nixon's run for office in 1960.


The artists:

Seymour Chwast (born 1931) grew up in New York and attended the city's Cooper Union Art School. He was a founder-partner with Edward Sorel and Milton Glaser, of the celebrated Push Pin Studios, a phenomena in the design field credited with changing the look of visual communication in America. Chwast has achieved distinction in many areas -- as a designer of books, posters, packages, films and magazines and as a book illustrator and author, including a number of award-winning children's books. "What motivates me is the challenge of converting information that has to be conveyed from one form to creative visual form...The concept is the content, while the style is the packaging. They are inseparable."

Jeff Danziger's motto is "the world is too serious not to laugh at it." More than cartoons, Danziger's drawings are richly detailed illustrations. His editorial cartoons have appeared regularly for more than a decade in The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Los Angeles Times and The San Francisco Chronicle. His work has also been published in Newsweek and The New Yorker.

Jules Feiffer (born 1929) is an editorial cartoonist, playwright, novelist, screenwriter, and author of children's books. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, Feiffer published his cartoon strip, Feiffer, in the Village Voice from 1956-1997. In 1996, the Library of Congress showcased a retrospective exhibition of his work. His cartoons often feature sparely drawn, neurotic characters agonizing over news events or personal problems. He has been called "the most talented social commentator in cartooning in our generation."

Robert Grossman (born 1940) in New York, received a degree from Yale (BA'61) and has worked as a cartoon editor as well as a freelance illustrator and cartoonist. He was a contributing editor to New York Magazine and has worked for Time, Newsweek and Esquire. Most recently his caricatures of presidential candidates and presidents have appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, The New York Observer, The Nation, the New York Times Magazine, The New Republic and Rolling Stone.

Edward Sorel (born 1929) once said, "I wake up angry and go to sleep angry. Essentially, my cartoons are a kind of therapy to keep myself from going crazy at the insanity and injustice in the world." In the mid-1950s, he co-founded the internationally renowned Push Pin Studios (with Seymour Chwast and Milton Glaser) and established his lifelong freelance career. His work, colored with comic techniques and many various references to art, history, and mythology, has appeared in American Heritage, Forbes, Esquire, The Atlantic, New York, Gentleman's Quarterly, Harper's, The Nation, Village Voice, Rolling Stone, Sports Illustrated, Time, and on the cover of The New Yorker.

Dan Wasserman of the The Boston Globe sees his cartoons frequently featured in national publications, including Time and on TV network news programs. He is the author of We've been Framed, a collection covering President Reagan's two terms in office. His cartoons are sharp, sly, humorous, and memorable. (left: Dan Wasserman, 2000, Will Somebody Check the Lighting?!)

The exhibition is funded in part by grants from the Boston Council for the Arts and the Massachusetts Cultural Commission, a state agency.

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