Submitted by admin on April 23, 2009 - 00:21
CARTOON AND CARICATURE
John Galsworthy once tried to shake David Low off with the sharp rebuke that he did not care for caricature. There was enough ugliness in the world and beauty should be encouraged. There may be abundant material for argument in such a remark, but the truth remains that caricature and cartoon have played, and will continue to play, a vigorous part in the affairs of men. In New Zealand they have achieved much in the discovery, analysis, selection, and preservation of the essentials of national growth: political, cultural, and ethical. Each in its way affords succeeding generations an opportunity to learn, as readily as anywhere else, what the greater part of fairly intelligent and instructed people were thinking and expecting from time to time; and, perhaps most interesting of all, this form of art enables the present to make out for itself, in the light of wider knowledge, how often the past thought and guessed wrong, and some of the reasons for it. If nothing else, it helps an appreciation of how hard it is to be right, which is not the least of the beginnings of wisdom in general and the understanding of history in particular.
The distinction between the cartoon and the caricature, though fairly understood by black and white artists, is at the best an uncertain quantity in the popular understanding. Loosely rendered, in the cartoon the idea comes first and the picture emerges from it; the caricature, on the other hand, is an exhibition of personality, perhaps a distorted or exaggerated portrait, without fixed rules and in no sense disciplined, except as regards the witty and the witless, the intelligent and the unintelligent. Caricature must be exaggerative and when applied to persons it must be personal and particular. But while caricature may be a portrait study and a cartoon merely a social or political opinion, in practice they can be made to blend admirably. An example is “A Health to Sir Winston”, drawn by Low on the occasion of Churchill's eightieth birthday.