I enjoyed posting some of my favorite fun picture book illustrations so much last month that I am revisiting the topic this week, only this time, I am pulling some well-loved images from sources outside of children’s books – more artists whose work conveys humor and playfulness.
Many of these images have a doodle-like quality. The topic of doodling deserves an entire post of its own, which maybe I will write someday, but I think doodling has a universal appeal because of its apparent fearless exploration of goofiness.
Saul Steinberg’s work has a sardonic wit.
Ben Shahn’s images laugh a little more quietly,
but still express a wise sense of humor.
John Rombola I imagine sharing a cigarette with John Waters for some reason.
The circus also inspired Alexander Calder. The Seattle Art Museum had a Calder exhibit a few years ago. I don’t think a museum exhibit before or since has ever put me in such a happy mood.
Josephine Baker. Ooh la la and hallelujah.
Even his large mobile sculptures evoke playfulness.
Inuit art also seems to contain a lot of humor. What is it about all that ice and snow? The long summer days? The long winter nights?
And here is a contemporary Japanese printmaker continuing the 17th – 19th century tradition of Okubi-e (bust portraits of Kabuki actors).
When I was in Japan as a teenager I saw Tamasaburo perform. He is actually quite slender and graceful. I don’t know if Tsuruya Kokei intended parody or was just tweaking composition and form, but it’s makes Tamasaburo look like a high comedienne.
Below is a photo of a Panamanian mola that I bought a number of years ago. It is a modern take on a traditional art form. Usually the motifs include bird and animal forms. This is the only one I’ve seen about a hairstyle.
And in response to Julie Paschkis’s last Beastly post on this blog, here are a couple of my favorite prints by Jose Guadalupe Posada. Scary funny.
I think I spied one of these bicyclists the last time I was in Brooklyn.
And speaking of Julie Paschkis, here is a drawing she made on a piece of paper from my notebook while we were at an SCBWI talk many years ago. She is the Queen of doodlers and her work also makes me smile. I kept the drawing (it was my paper after all…) and it hangs in my studio to remind me to let loose and have more fun when I am working (and not get my neck all twisted around like that).