By Sheri R. Klein
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Additional resources for Art and laughter
The artworks that do provoke laughter may comprise only a small percentage of art in the entire history of art. These artworks, however, are a vital and curious genre of art that demands more serious inquiry. One of the hurdles to looking at and understanding art is to clarify our own assumptions about and definitions of art. In addition, now that humour is part of the mix, it is important to understand what art we find funny and why. For example, a question worth asking yourself is how you define art.
Yet, she does smile. Both Leonardo and Mona Lisa defy our expectations of art, and women’s roles. Leonardo and Mona Lisa defy the expectations of an artist and his sitter. Her smile, which may be defined as only a halfsmile, slightly turned up, is still alluring, pop and very cool. 14 Other Historical Grins and Smiles Most images of wide smiles and grins in historical Western painting belonged to the lower classes, which included beggars, dwarfs and court jesters. In royal courts, jesters of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries were used to lighten up the crowds, poking fun at royal life and social mores.
Some artists who engage the use of visual paradox in their work include Julia Kunin, Liza Lou, Sarah Lucas, Pat Oleszko, Judy Onofrio, Tony Oursler, Niki de Saint Phalle, Kenny Sharf and David Shrigley. Irony Irony is a leading form of humour, particularly in postmodern art. Irony is enabled by using words or a combination of words and images to express something completely Before the Laugh 19 different from the literal meaning of the word or object. The purpose of irony in art is to awaken our capacity to see subtle contradictions in images and within language so that we may ‘read between the lines’, and not take everything at face value.