The Art of Controversy: Political Cartoons and Their Enduring Power

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Alfred A. Knopf, 2013 - Art - 231 pages
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A lavishly illustrated, witty, and original look at the awesome power of the political cartoon throughout history to enrage, provoke, and amuse.

As a former editor of The New York Times Magazine and the longtime editor of The Nation, Victor S. Navasky knows just how transformative--and incendiary--cartoons can be. Here Navasky guides readers through some of the greatest cartoons ever created, including those by George Grosz, David Levine, Herblock, Honoré Daumier, and Ralph Steadman.  He recounts how cartoonists and caricaturists have been censored, threatened, incarcerated, and even murdered for their art, and asks what makes this art form, too often dismissed as trivial, so uniquely poised to affect our minds and our hearts.

Drawing on his own encounters with would-be censors, interviews with cartoonists, and historical archives from cartoon museums across the globe, Navasky examines the political cartoon as both art and polemic over the centuries. We see afresh images most celebrated for their artistic merit (Picasso's Guernica, Goya's "Duendecitos"), images that provoked outrage (the 2008 Barry Blitt New Yorker cover, which depicted the Obamas as a Muslim and a Black Power militant fist-bumping in the Oval Office), and those that have dictated public discourse (Herblock's defining portraits of McCarthyism, the Nazi periodical Der Stürmer's anti-Semitic caricatures). Navasky ties together these and other superlative genre examples to reveal how political cartoons have been not only capturing the zeitgeist throughout history but shaping it as well--and how the most powerful cartoons retain the ability to shock, gall, and inspire long after their creation.

Here Victor S. Navasky brilliantly illuminates the true power of one of our most enduringly vital forms of artistic expression.


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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - bness2 - LibraryThing

I found this an informative read, but would have preferred a few more examples of the cartoons discussed. At times the focus seemed a bit scattered. Overall, though, I am glad I read it. Read full review

THE ART OF CONTROVERSY: Political Cartoons and Their Enduring Power

User Review  - Jane Doe - Kirkus

The veteran journalist offers a survey of political caricature, international in scope, but a little sketchy in its short biographical summaries.As the former editor and publisher of the Nation ... Read full review


The Cartoon as Content
The Cartoon as Image
The Cartoon as Stimulus
William Hogarth
James Gillray
Charles Philipon
Thomas Nast
Pablo Picasso
David Low
Victor Wcisz Vicky
Herbert Block Herblock
Raymond Jackson Jak
Naji alAli
Steve Platt and the New Statesman
Doug Marlene
David Levine

Masses Art Young and Robert Minor
John Heartfield
Acknowledgments 111

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About the author (2013)

Victor S. Navasky is the former editor and publisher of The Nation, and a former editor at The New York Times Magazine, who once founded his own quarterly of political satire, Monocle, "a radical sporadical."  He is the author of, among other books, Naming Names, which won a 1982 National Book Award, and A Matter of Opinion, which won the George Polk Book Award. He teaches at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, where he is the director of the Delacorte Center for Magazine Journalism and chair of the Columbia Journalism Review. He lives in New York.

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