What’s So Funny? Humor in Art Examined
Now - November 21
Real and Imagined by Phillip Knoll
Any artist who attempts to express humor through his work runs the risk of being dismissed as a cartoonist or of having produced a visual one-liner. At the Spencertown Academy, an exhibit, “What’s So Funny?”, curated by the artist Linda B. Horn, explores humor in art through the work of six artists who have boldly confronted that risk in preference to the far more common (but seldom remarked upon) pitfall confronting artists—being dull.
“Explaining or defining humor is not as difficult as defining pornography,” says Horn. “Instead of ‘I know it when I see it,’ humor immediately elicits a physical response—laughter or a smile. Excluding performance and video, humorous visual art tends to be characterized as lacking gravitas.”
Horn argues that the current John Baldessari show at the Metropolitan Museum in New York, and the recent New Yorker profile of that artist (“No More Boring Art”) should lay to rest the idea that playfulness and humor somehow undermine the importance of a work of fine art.
The Spencertown Academy show features works that are both playful and serious at once. Dan Devine, whose “Sheep Farm” is presently at The Fields Sculpture Park at Omi in Ghent, will exhibit, among other works, a sculpture, “This Conversation May be Recorded,” that pairs a chandelier with surveillance cameras. George Horner, aka the Park Slope Poster Man, who has been using the streets of Brooklyn as an art gallery since 1991, creates humorous, provocative poster art and cryptic signage from things he has heard in casual conversation. His snow-white neon speech bubble, “I Gave You a Retrospective at the City Dump,” and “Duchimp Duchamp Duchump Duchomp,” an animated neon poster, will be among his works exhibited here. Takashi Usui’s erotic visual humor and pieces by Phillip Knoll and Morgan Bulkeley also support the point.
At 4:30 p.m. on Saturday afternoon, just prior to the opening reception, stand-up satirist Mikhail Horowitz and musician Gilles Malkine will perform hip-hop versions of Waiting for Godot, Moby Dick among other musical tributes to literary classics; and blues versions of Shakespeare, Ovid, and Kafka; kosher cowboy and Hasidic hillbilly songs and hilarious political meanderings.