4.1 Caricature and Character

Take to abstraction like Gary Hume Angela Merkel?

Task

Pick a well-known television celebrity or personality who has a public persona on screen that might contrast with their private life or who has a particular reputation – for example, an aggressive interviewer, a philandering sports person or a vain actor. Your examples don’t
have to be negative, but caricature tends to focus on people’s failings rather than their successes.

Produce a character portrait of this personality. Aim to make the portrait recognisable. This can come from both from the portrayal of the person and by adding in other visual clues. You may want to work from photographic reference material as a starting point.

Then produce a much more satirical caricature of the same person in which you use exaggeration to hint at the other aspects of their personality you know about. Try and maintain a level of recognition, so people know who you are drawing.

Reflect in your learning log whether you have been successful in achieving this. You may want to test your drawings on a friend or family member. Do they know who it is and what traits you are trying to caricature?

Plan

I have chosen Bob Geldof for this project. Originally this was because of the link with Live Aid and Ethiopia – because of the many contradictions in his personality, life and aims. And the controversy surrounding his lack of self control/plain speaking/swearing and making money off the back of charitable activity.

As I did some more research it was obvious that he was very easy to caricature in rather cruel and facile ways. There were many caricatures already on-line either just exaggerating his eminently caricaturable facial features and expressions, and also highlighting the widely perceived contradiction between his wealth and promotion of charities like Live Aid in order to reinvigorate a faltering music career.

Paul Moyse Bob Geldof caricature
Tonio caricature of Bob Geldof

See Google search

Cartoonstock directory: with captions such as ‘Feed my Ego’ and ‘Multi-millionaires for economic justice’

Then I found a link to the following 2014 article for the Guardian by Miranda Sawyer: ‘We are a normal family. And one of us didn’t make it’ and another 2001 Guardian article by Caroline Sullivan ‘Songs in the key of death’ . These put him in a rather different light. In the Sullivan article he talks his personal life and the background to the album ‘Sex, Age and Death’, trying to come to terms with his profound hurt surrounding his divorce to Paula Yates and subsequent vilification. Miranda Sawyer stresses his extreme high nervous energy and intelligence. He talks of his unending sadness at the tragic death of his daughter Peaches, and the extent of depression and addiction in his close family. Even though he himself suffered from neither. In both of these it is apparent that he throws himself into music as a means of dealing with personal emotions he cannot express publicly.

Moreover, his political convictions are far from fake. Live Aid, despite its by no means unusually patronising charitable attitude of ‘Feed the World’ did start a level of commitment amongst the Western public towards development issues. Later similar charities like Comic Relief are doing pretty innovative work. Many of the issues where he becomes vocal are not at all clearcut – though sometimes he makes them seem so and then changes his mind – as for example his various somewhat contradictory contributions on Brexit where his style and hype often offends both sides.

See Guardian article on fisheries

and various articles from Daily Star and Daily Express on hi U-Turn (Google search Bob Geldof Brexit U-Turn)

 

 

Research Resources

Website

http://www.bobgeldof.com

Has photos and music. An interesting use on on-line promotion and web effects to bring everything together.

Videos

 

Other Caricature Styles

Barry Fantoni’s portraits of 70s and 80s television celebrities, while exaggerating facial features and expressions for comic effect, are centred on being able to represent the character accurately.

Contemporary illustrator Thea Brine works in a similar way, hinting at
caricature but remaining true to the character. By comparison, the work of contemporary cartoonist

Martin Rowson is a lot more exaggerated, more heavily loaded with symbolism and as a consequence has a lot more satirical bite – it’s much sharper and closer to the bone than Fantoni’s and Brine’s warmer portrayals. Both approaches have their place in satirical cartooning.

Herakut Street Art style